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DRM must die: Steve Jobs publishes rare open letter urging labels to dump digital rights management technologies

Music_2 Apple's Steve Jobs posted a very rare public letter today on the Apple website. Nearly 2000 words. For a document that surely has gone through a lawyer scrubbing it actually reads pretty well. (I would love to see a 10-minute video presentation of Jobs making this same case, but a letter will have to do). Here are a couple of paragraphs from the letter written in plain English:

"The rub comes from the music Apple sells on its online iTunes Store. Since Apple does not own or control any music itself, it must license the rights to distribute music from others, primarily the “big four” music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI.... When Apple approached these companies to license their music to distribute legally over the Internet, they were extremely cautious and required Apple to protect their music from being illegally copied.

"If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music."

                                                  — Steve Jobs (2007)

Back in 2002, when I still was working in Cupertino, I remember that Jobs had publicly grumbled a bit about the record companies and their reluctance to loosen up.

"If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own."                                                      
                                                   — Steve Jobs (2002)

Here's an article called The Big DRM Mistake in The Register from last year. People have been unhappy about DRM and iTunes for quite some time. You may remember the Anti-iTunes/DRM demonstrations at the Apple retail stores last year. Has Apple changed its tune? Apple seems to be saying that it is indeed DRM itself that is the problem. Interesting to see where this goes.


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