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Jobs Favors DRM-Free Music Distribution 755

Posted by kdawson
from the not-my-fault dept.
Another anonymous reader tips an essay by Steve Jobs on the Apple site about DRM, iTunes, and the iPod. Perhaps it was prompted by the uncomfortable pressure the EU has been putting on Apple to open up the iPod. Jobs places the blame for the existence and continuing reliance on DRM squarely on the music companies. Quoting: "Much of the concern over DRM systems has arisen in European countries. Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free. For Europeans, two and a half of the big four music companies are located right in their backyard. The largest, Universal, is 100% owned by Vivendi, a French company. EMI is a British company, and Sony BMG is 50% owned by Bertelsmann, a German company. Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly."
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Jobs Favors DRM-Free Music Distribution

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  • FTA (Score:5, Informative)

    by roger6106 (847020) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @04:49PM (#17910462)

    Here's the parts I found most interesting:

    Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. 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.

    Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven't worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.

    If anything, the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.
  • Well, Jobs gets it (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @04:50PM (#17910484) Homepage Journal

    At least he understands what the rest of us understand, which is that DRM can never prevent copying. The most it can do is slow it down.

    He does get one thing wrong in the article though: "No DRM system was ever developed for the CD". Not true. There are several DRM systems developed for Audio CDs. However, they all depend on the disc being placed into a computer that will pay attention to something other than CDDA tracks, which means they are ineffective on purpose-built CD copiers or computers on which the user has either disabled autorun or holds the shift key while the disc is inserted.

    DRM doesn't have to be effective to be DRM...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @04:55PM (#17910604)
    He points out he doesn't think there is an effective "lock-in" since by his (perhaps overly-simplistic) statistics, FairPlay music amounts to only 3% of music on iPods.

    Aside from that, I wonder if more people would buy from iTunes if there were no DRM. I know I would, but I might not be representative of the population.

    (Unless the population lives in their parents basements and cries themselves to sleep at night for all the loneliness they feel every day.)
  • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@@@pacbell...net> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @04:58PM (#17910684) Homepage
    He actually gives a reason why not:

    An equally serious problem is how to quickly repair the damage caused by such a leak. A successful repair will likely involve enhancing the music store software, the music jukebox software, and the software in the players with new secrets, then transferring this updated software into the tens (or hundreds) of millions of Macs, Windows PCs and players already in use. This must all be done quickly and in a very coordinated way. Such an undertaking is very difficult when just one company controls all of the pieces. It is near impossible if multiple companies control separate pieces of the puzzle, and all of them must quickly act in concert to repair the damage from a leak.
    Are you going to read his essay or not?
  • Re:iTunes and DRM (Score:3, Informative)

    by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@@@pacbell...net> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:02PM (#17910750) Homepage
    Apple provides [apple.com] instructions on how to deauthorize computers. I think from within iTunes.
  • by oberondarksoul (723118) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:07PM (#17910858) Homepage
    Please read the friendly article. Jobs says that Apple have considered it before, but they're in an interesting position: if FairPlay is cracked, and remains unpatched for a number of weeks, then the record companies can simply pull their content from the iTS. Now, at present, Apple can simply patch FairPlay and push out a new version of iTunes and the iPod firmware. However, with multiple players and stores all using FairPlay, the problem magnifies: if any one of those links in the increasingly-complex chain remains weak, and FairPlay is still exposed, it leaves Apple vulnerable.
  • Re:iTunes and DRM (Score:2, Informative)

    by Clomer (644284) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:07PM (#17910860)
    That's actually a known way to get around Apple's DRM. The disadvantages are that you use a CD to do so (which you mentioned) and that there is a slight loss in sound quality since it is being re-encoded.

    I'll probably do this with my two protected files sooner or later, when I actually get around to it.
  • by Dster76 (877693) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:16PM (#17911018)

    Why doesn't Microsoft have the same problems?
    From TFA:

    Apple has concluded that if it licenses FairPlay to others, it can no longer guarantee to protect the music it licenses from the big four music companies. Perhaps this same conclusion contributed to Microsoft's recent decision to switch their emphasis from an "open" model of licensing their DRM to others to a "closed" model of offering a proprietary music store, proprietary jukebox software and proprietary players.
    Really, did you read the article at all?
  • Re:mod jobs up (Score:5, Informative)

    by C0rinthian (770164) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:22PM (#17911120)

    However, a key provision of our agreements with the music companies is that if our DRM system is compromised and their music becomes playable on unauthorized devices, we have only a small number of weeks to fix the problem or they can withdraw their entire music catalog from our iTunes store.
    With a provision like this, I wouldn't want to license the shit to anyone else either.
  • Re:iTunes and DRM (Score:3, Informative)

    by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:23PM (#17911144)

    The computer I originally downloaded them on no longer exists, so I have no way to deauthorize it.
    You can deauthorize all your licensed machines through your account in iTunes. Then you just reauthorize your existing machine by typing in your password when iTunes asks for it.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:28PM (#17911240)

    Is it also the record companies that force Steve to sell OS X with DRM? Do not forget that OS X is tied to Mac hardware by a "Trusted Computing Module".

    Have you considered checking your facts? The most recent Macs don't even have a TPM module and no version of OS X ever used it, although some third party utilities did, in order to do more secure encryption. Macintosh computers do check the motherboard to insure it is an Apple one, but no "DRM" is in use and if you look at the code that does that it contains a "please don't violate our license by installing on other hardware" message.

  • by mollymoo (202721) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:31PM (#17911306) Journal
    The big 4 say iTunes has to to DRM everything, or they can't sell their music. Same goes for pricing. The big 4 won't let iTunes sell other people's music for less.
  • by creysoft (856713) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:36PM (#17911410)
    Actually, that's only if your Mac has a PowerPC chip in it, and since Apple doesn't (to my knowledge) sell any PPC Macs anymore, this statement is untrue. Your sentiment, however, is absolutely correct. The operating system itself supports (through a virtualization layer) nearly any properly written application released since System 6; it's the hardware that makes the difference. (Rosetta itself is a compabitility layer to allow PPC apps to run, so piling Classic on top of Rosetta would be a marvel of softwrae engineering.)

    Nevertheless, it is incorrect to state that you can natively run OS 9 applications on any new Mac. As Apple has wanted to phase out OS 9 for years now, I do not forsee this changing any time in the future.
  • by blzabub (889163) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:36PM (#17911418) Homepage
    It sounds like you didn't read Steve Jobs' original message. He explains why licensing DRM to other companies would not work due to the stringent contractual requirements that the music companies have placed on Apple in regards to maintaining the integrity of the DRM system. He also explains that only 3% of the music iPods are capable of storing are DRM'd/from the iTunes store, the other 97% is likely pirated or legally ripped from CDs or other sources. So most people are not locked in since most if not all of the music on their iPods is not DRM'd.
  • by Onan (25162) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:41PM (#17911500)
    Did you, by any chance, read the actual article? It discusses exactly the ideas you suggest, and presents a reasonable case for why those would not allow them to keep their obligations to the music publishers.

  • by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:44PM (#17911552) Homepage
    If you read TFA you'll see that Jobs explains exactly why they don't license their DRM. It's because a requirement of their license to sell the music of the record companies is that any holes discovered in the DRM are patched within a certain time limit. He says that by licensing the technology to a bunch of 3rd parties, that there is more chance of a particular implementation of FairPlay leaking out, yet it would still be Apple's resposibility to fix the holes - but this time for more devices and software platforms. The effectively makes it impossible for Apple to submit to 3rd party licensing because they don't have the resources to be able to take on that level of responsibility.

    Bob
  • by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:56PM (#17911736)

    The other problem, which isn't exclusive of the first, is that the DRM isn't applied once to each song in the store when it's being added to the database, but added at the time of sale (necessary because it's encrypted with a key that's specific to each user), somewhere on Akamai's servers. It might be difficult to the point of being cost-prohibitive to designate one song as being DRM-free, if the system wasn't designed with that capability from the beginning.
    Actually... iTunes adds the DRM after it is downloaded. I'm not sure whether that helps or hurts your argument though: It means that it is less server-intensive, but it also means that putting in a flag for 'don't DRM this file' would be much easier to abuse.

  • You're 100% wrong (Score:4, Informative)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @06:01PM (#17911852)
    Mac OS X does not use TPM or trusted computing in any way [osxbook.com] to tie Mac OS X to Apple hardware. In fact, Apple doesn't use TPM for any purpose, at all.
  • by soft_guy (534437) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @06:14PM (#17912142)

    Nope, still don't buy it. Why doesn't Microsoft have the same problems?
    This is ALSO covered in the article. If wide licensing of DRM tech was the answer, why did Microsoft abandon Plays For Sure in favor of a closed DRM model with the Zune?

    You can either choose to believe Steve's reasoning that it is the same reason that he states for not licensing Fair Play, or you can believe that Microsoft is INCREDIBLE STUPID as the fact that Zune doesn't use Plays for Sure was a huge black eye for them. It added to customer confusion and isn't helping Zune succeed.
  • First, it puts Apple on record as opposing DRM.

    This quote's at least a couple years old:

    "When we first went to talk to these record companies -- you know, it was a while ago. It took us 18 months. And at first we said: None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.'s here, that know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content.

    What's new is this amazingly efficient distribution system for stolen property called the Internet -- and no one's gonna shut down the Internet. And it only takes one stolen copy to be on the Internet. And the way we expressed it to them is: Pick one lock -- open every door. It only takes one person to pick a lock. Worst case: Somebody just takes the analog outputs of their CD player and rerecords it -- puts it on the Internet. You'll never stop that. So what you have to do is compete with it." -- Steve Jobs
    Second, he gives an argument against licensing FairPlay to other vendors that I hadn't heard or thought of before

    Yes, that was interesting: if their contract with the labels requires that kind of control, then they can't legally open up Fairplay and keep most of the music in iTMS available.
  • Re:mod jobs up (Score:4, Informative)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @06:42PM (#17912722) Homepage

    I don't think it's a case of Jobs suddenly realizing DRM is bad and becoming a generous benefactor by disregarding his greedy interests. First, he's been against DRM from the beginning. It's come up again and again, and I don't know whether any public statements have been made before, but by all accounts Steve Jobs did not want DRM on iTMS. The record companies just required it.

    Second, by most accounts, Apple doesn't make much money off of the iTMS anyhow. They roughly break even. It's a marketing issue, to promote the iPod, and that's pretty much it. Third, even if Apple did make money from the sales, they don't need to make much. While record companies are spending money to actually produce the music, Apple only needs to make enough to cover their costs of running the store. Therefore, Apple doesn't need to worry very much about piracy.

    So even if Apple took a small loss on the iTMS, it might be worth it for marketing purposes. However, keeping the DRM hurts their PR, and it's probably a nightmare to manage, keep up-to-date, etc. Plus, they've lost the business of people who might have purchased from iTMS, but who won't because of the DRM. DRM is a net loss for them, I'm sure.

  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @07:45PM (#17913892)
    If you don't use Windows or Mac, I'm guessing you're a Linux user. If you're technically competent to use Linux as your primary OS, I doubt you'd have any trouble installing and using Rockbox [rockbox.org], which is OSS that would make an iPod behave the way you want it to.

    Of course, if you don't see any other advantages to iPods, then there's no point. A lot of people like their price/form factor/clickwheel/battery life/reliability/style/customer service.
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @07:53PM (#17914018) Homepage Journal

    My only complaint with the apple drm is the quality. I like everything to be 192+ as I can hear the difference in anything under 192.
    # AAC compressed audio at 128 Kbps (stereo) has been judged by expert listeners to be "indistinguishable" from the original uncompressed audio source.
    # AAC compressed audio at 96 Kbps generally exceeded the quality of MP3 compressed audio at 128 Kbps. AAC at 128 Kbps provides significantly superior performance than does MP3 at 128 Kbps [apple.com].
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by Durandal64 (658649) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @08:40PM (#17914626)

    If Jobs wanted a consistent, all-or-nothing experience, he would make iTunes encrypt all music -- ripped CDs, MP3s from the intarweb, etc.
    I said a consistent experience with the store, you blitering idiot. Why the hell would Jobs forcibly have iTunes DRM legitimately-ripped CDs? Hell, this is an argument in favor of Jobs' comments today, not against them. iTunes doesn't even offer the user the option of DRM'ing their rips, unlike Windows Media Player.

    The current situation is inconsistent. If a user wants to make a MP3-CD for their car player, some of their songs can be copied (MP3s ripped from original CDs) and some can't (iTunes Store purchases).
    Wrong [jakeludington.com]. iTunes will simply convert the protected AACs to MP3's to create the MP3 CD.

    How the fuck is that consistent? The average user doesn't understand why there's a difference. They don't know that iTunes Store tracks are encrypted, and they certainly don't know how to tell which is which. They just have a bunch of music and want everything to work the same way.
    Bullshit, you retard. There's a "Purchased" category in iTunes that shows you exactly what you've bought from the store, and all music bought from the store has the ".m4p" extension. Have you ever used iTunes?
  • by cultrhetor (961872) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:20PM (#17915066) Journal
    It isn't piracy: you're free to burn the music to cd. In fact, you're encouraged to make back-ups of your purchased music.
  • by dabraun (626287) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:45PM (#17916204)

    immediately rip it back to mp3 with myfairtunes ... it's 100% of the quality of the original file just shy the drm
    Say what? You can not convert an AAC (regardless of DRM) to an MP3 and not lose quality. They are differnet compression algorithms and your decompress/recompress inherently loses quality. You could convert it to a WAV file without losing quality (or APE, or FLAC, or even windows media lossless) - but compressing it back to any format will lose quality. If you had to decompress it to get around the DRM (which you may or may not have to do) they you'd generally still lose quality turning it back into an AAC file.

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