Steve Jobs’ thoughts on DRM

I have not shared my thoughts on DRM (Digital Rights Management) here, but suffice it to say, I think it is not a very effective way to accomplish the goal. If you don’t know what DRM is, basically it is the reason you cannot play music that you buy from the iTunes Music Store on an MP3 player that is not an iPod. Or the reason you cannot play music that you buy at (almost) any other online music store on an iPod.

Today Apple published an article by Steve Jobs telling what he thinks needs to be done with the DRM system. If you take time to read the article, realize that this is all very self-serving to Apple. This is not proposed by him because he loves you and me, it is so that we will love Apple more. But more importantly, so that all the countries that are suing Apple for limiting their DRM technology to iPods and iTunes will back off. That said though, this is very good for us as consumers as well. So, yes, he is proposing this for the purpose of not loosing billions of dollars in law suits and potentially having to lock out certain countries from using iTunes, but the side benefit, if it flies, is that you will be able to play your iTunes purchased music on many other devices.

I have owned an iPod for nearly 2 years. I have bought 2 songs off of iTunes and will probably purchase about that many over the next 2 years if things stay the same as they are now. Those 2 songs I bought will never be able to legally play on my Linux machine (which is my primary computer). I also cannot play them on my iRiver MP3 player. But if things change to a model where Apple drops DRM completely (which, by the way, Jobs said he would do in a heart beat, but is limited by the recording industry, this is not his choice), I would consider buying many more songs through the iTunes Music Store, or other on-line music stores.

As it is, I am limiting my purchases from on-line stores to Magnatune. They have a lot of music that I like, but not a lot of music I don’t like. So if your musical tastes are not what mine are, you may not find much there. Magnatune allows you to purchase music for a price you specify (as little as $5 per CD), then share that download with your friends for no extra cost. They actually encourage you to do so. They understand that you are more likely to purchase music if you get a chance to hear it first. They are their own recording label (of sorts), therefore do not have all the big names. But what they do have is top notch. It is not a bunch of independent artists who cannot get signed with anyone else because they stink. They really have good stuff.

Anyway, back to the point of the post. Check out the article. I got the tip off about this article from Podcasting News where they give a good summary of the article if you would rather read a short breakdown of it. I actually have not read the whole Jobs’ article since I got so excited about it that I had to post this. But as soon as I upload this I will digest the article.

I have read the article now. Wow! While there will be detractors from this idea that Jobs has, I think it holds some validity. He posits (a little incorrectly) that only 10% of the world’s music is sold with DRM and that 90% is distributed DRM free, and furthermore is easily pirateable; therefore, keeping DRM in on-line music store purchases is not necessary. Where he is a little wrong is that the 10% number comes from just music sold through iTunes. But, at most, legal on-line purchases certainly make up less than 25% of the total music purchased.

Very good article. I hope this gets picked up and starts some wheels turning. It really is worth the read if you remotely care. (Mom, that does not include you. You can skip this one.)

6 thoughts on “Steve Jobs’ thoughts on DRM”

  1. take your iTunes songs, burn a CD and then rip the CD into MP3 and you can use your songs on the iRiver, if you need them.

    I don’t mind iPods, but I like the control over my PNY, iRiver, Nike PSA play (when I had it)

  2. I know I can do that, but I can also go to jail for breaking the DMCA if I did. The DMCA makes no provisions (as far as I know) for personal use. This is a problem if you buy your music with DRM on it. You never really own it in the sense that it is yours and you can listen to it on any of your devices (legally).

    Don’t get me started about the evils of the DMCA…

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