Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Steve Jobs on Digital Rights Management

"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."
- Steve Jobs, February 6, 2007

Steve Jobs on Digital Rights Management. I love Steve.
This is one of the difference between Apple/Steve and MS/Gates: Bill Gates is totally on the side of "the system" and big business. Steve Jobs is always on the side of the customer's control and free flow.

Commentary from TidBITS.


Gandalfe said...

Oh come on now. I am as biased as the next guy but both companies are about making money. One of the reasons Apple didn't become the PC of 20th Century is because they priced themselves out of the market and wouldn't allow anyone but them to make periphals for their computer. It's always about the almighty dollar.

eolake said...

Yeah, but you'll notice this was in the ten-year period when Steve Jobs was not in the company.

ttl said...

Apple ][ was famous for its well documented, open architecture. This created a whole industry of third party add-on and peripheral makers. There were also many Apple ][ clones in the market, some legal and some copyright infringing.

Macintosh, introduced in 1984, was a much more closed system. The hard disk bus was initially fully proprietary. Apple later switched to the industry standard SCSI, but for some reason Apple still required peripheral makers to have a license to develop for Apple's SCSI. (The rest of the computer industry treated SCSI as a completely open standard.)

Also, documentation was (at least initially) scarce and Apple did its best to suppress all development of Macintosh clones.

Jobs left Apple in May, 1985.

In 1995 Apple opened the Macintosh design to licensed clone manufacturers. Many Macintosh users remember the company Power Computing from this era.

In 1997 Jobs again became Apple CEO. One of his first moves was to kill the clone program. He did this by deliberately raising the license fees so high that it was impossible for the clone manufacturers to compete with Apple.

Power Computing went out of business. Their web site's final design had the text "We lost our license for speeding" featured prominently on the main page.

ttl said...

iTMS features a lot of music from independent artists. One of Apple's licensing sources for these is CD Baby, a major distributor of indy artists and in no way connected to the “big four” music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner or EMI.

Apple could already distribute the music from these indy artists free of DRM (as is done elsewhere). But Apple is not doing this. Why?

If Steve is so against DRM why is he currently putting DRM into music for which no one asks him to do that?

eolake said...

Maybe for technical reasons. Maybe they *do* ask them to.

When Jobs came back to Apple, it was in dire streets, something had to be done. And since Apple's profit has always been in hardware, it is not hard to argue that the clone program was bad for the company.

ttl said...

HD-DVD and Blu-Ray DRM have now both been cracked.

How long until the manufacturer's come to their senses and finally realise that DRM is nothing but a waste of time and energy for all parties concerned?

I predict two years.

ttl said...

By the way, the hacker's description of how he uncovered the processing key is a fascinating read.

Anonymous said...

Apple is even more proprietary than Microsoft. Steve Jobs is hardly the darling of free accessibility.

eolake said...

I hear you.

But Apple is the only big company I have heard of who is willing to sell content without DRM.

And Apple software often does not even require a registration number, and I have never had it force me to register online, like MS usually does.

Protecting PDF said...


DRM systems are ostensibly designed to protect an author's right to control copying. This protection is only half of the bargain between the copyright holder and the state. The presence of DRM affects private property rights. The DRM component takes control over the rest of the user's device and restricts how it may act, regardless of the user's wishes. Thanks....