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Apple fires on DRM

Friday, 9 February 2007 technology

In an open letter from Steve Jobs to the recording industry at large, he said he would implement an open store “in a heartbeat” once they relinquished their unmanageable grasp over digital rights.

Apple fires on DRM

This is quite a turnaround for Apple, who have bent over backwards to meet the whims of the music industry in order to secure better contracts.

Jobs goes onto say that 90% of the world’s music is sold without DRM — citing CD sales — so why should online music be any different?

DRMs havent worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.

I’ve said this before. I, in fact, went onto say that DRM systems (paired with the DMCA) piss all over fair-use rules and force anybody wanting to use their purchased music as they wish, to break the law by removing the DRM.

I think he’s hit the nail right on the head. DRM does not work. There will always be workaround because media industries have no implicit right to control how we use our computers.

As DRM “improves” the systems to use it require more and more processing power. In the case of High Definition video — using AACS — this means having an extremely powerful computer running to decode the media. AACS has been cracked already but consumers still have to fork out for the expensive hardware. Without the DRM, more people would be able to afford the hardware, less money would be wasted on keeping it up to date and we would see technology progress a lot faster.

In the case of mobile devices like the iPod or the Zune, there just isn’t the space or flexibility to implement the restrictions the music industry would like. Even if they did adopt an AACS approach to this, chances are there would be a crack for it available in weeks and people that wanted to crack the DRM would, but everybody that just wanted the latest iPod would still have to fork out for the purchase and upkeep of the powerful DRM system.

The CEO of the RIAA has already replied saying that Apple should instead open up their FairPlay DRM, rather stupidly because Jobs already covered this in his open letter. Opening FairPlay only serves to see its downfall. More people with the code == more people able to crack it.

Whatever your opinions on this, I hope Apple managed to pull this off. Out of all the online music stores, iTunes is the biggest so if anybody has the power, Apple does. And who knows, perhaps this will have a knock on effect for all DRM-afflicted media types.