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The Economist, DVD Jon On Apple's DRM Stand 425

Posted by kdawson
from the yea-and-nay dept.
We have two followups this morning to Tuesday's story on Steve Jobs's call to do away with DRM for music. The first is an editorial in The Economist sent in by reader redelm, who notes that as "arguably the world's leading business newspaper/magazine" that publication is in a position to influence legal and political decision-makers who may never have heard of DRM. The Economist says: "Mr Jobs's argument, in short, is transparently self-serving. It also happens to be right." Next, Whiney Mac Fanboy sends pointers to two blog entries by "DVD Jon" Johansen. In the first Johansen questions Jobs's misuse of statistics in attempting to prove that consumers aren't tied to iPods through ITMS: "Many iPod owners have never bought anything from the iTunes Store. Some have bought hundreds of songs. Some have bought thousands. At the 2004 Macworld Expo, Steve revealed that one customer had bought $29,500 worth of music." Johansen's second post questions Jobs's "DRM-free in a heartbeat" claim: "There are... many Indie artists who would love to sell DRM-free music on iTunes, but Apple will not allow them... It should not take Apple's iTunes team more than 2-3 days to implement a solution for not wrapping content with FairPlay when the content owner does not mandate DRM. This could be done in a completely transparent way and would not be confusing to the users."
Update: 02/08 16:28 GMT by KD : Added missing links.
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The Economist, DVD Jon On Apple's DRM Stand

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  • excellent thought (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scoot80 (1017822)
    get rid of DRM. maybe others will follow...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      I completely agree. There are a few tracks I've considered buying from iTMS, decided not to because of the DRM, and never got around to buying on CD. Occasionally I hear someone playing them and think 'Hmm, I should buy a copy of this,' but then never get around to it. iTMS is overpriced in the UK anyway, but expensive and DRM'd just makes it not an attractive option.

      If the indie artists who don't want DRM were able to offer their music without it (and maybe have an 'unencumbered' badge next to the trac

      • I went a little futher and bought some tracks (about 10). I thought the iTunes process was pretty good and almost reminiscent of the good old audio galaxy days - nice fast downloads, good search.

        Then I realised that actually I don't like iTunes much as a player (wrote my own :), that I want to use them on my iRiver player, and that I can't be bothered mucking around with transferring licenses to my work PC. It's just a bunch of hassle that defeats the point of having a nice store.

        I also realised that iTunes
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Divebus (860563)
      I've got it. The biggest problem is DRM is illegal to hack. Get rid of those laws globally. Problem solved.
      • Re:excellent thought (Score:4, Interesting)

        by aaza (635147) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @07:02PM (#17940888)
        How about:

        You can have DRM protecting your content, or you can have copyright enforced on your content.

        This leads to any DRM'ed content with the DRM broken (which only takes time) being copyright free, and tradeable as you wish, with no recourse for the "owner", since they gave up the copyright on the notion that the DRM would protect them.

        Plus have it legal to try to break DRM, of course.

  • All-or-Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:46AM (#17933230)
    It's very possible that Apple's contract bans them from selling non-DRMed music alongside DRMed music. This explains why groups like Nettwerk haven't been given the option to sell their music DRM-free. Apple's got the best deal of all the music stores, they must have given up something to get it, and "all music must be DRMed" sounds very cartel-ish and would fit getting the good prices.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      It's also possible that Apple doesn't really WANT to sell DRM-free music because that would mean people could play those songs on MP3 players that didn't have "iPod" on the front of them.

      -Eric

      • Re:All-or-Nothing (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:59AM (#17933374)
        See, but that would only be a major concern if the iPod wasn't the most popular DAP already. The iPod can now survive without the iTMS because there's just so much built around it, from the "coolness factor" to the fact that about half of all DAP peripherals use the iPod dock. And iPods are still the easiest to use with iTunes, especially since you get niceties like lyrics and album art transferred over as well. DRM certainly helped Apple get where it is, but it doesn't need it to stay there.
        • Re:All-or-Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

          by deboli (199358) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @10:30AM (#17933730) Homepage
          The iPod was first, the store came later. The iPod was successful because of an elegant hardware-software integration and not because you can buy and legally download music.

          On top of this iPods are sold worldwide while the store can only be accessed from a few select countries, further skewing the "average" calculation...
        • Re:All-or-Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AndersOSU (873247) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:45PM (#17936132)
          Apparently the argument isn't as transparent as the Economist says, (or maybe I'm just a bit tin-foilly today) but Jobs is a PR genius. If comes out against DRM, maybe he gets the French off his back, knowing full well that the RIAA will never allow him to sell non-DRM music. He's counting on not having to switch in a heart-beat. This way, he not only gets to look like "a champion of consumer rights," but also gets to maintain his lock in.

          Apple would be fine without DRM, but the are better off with it - and even better with it while saying the don't want it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by daviddennis (10926)
        I don't think they really care about that.

        What I do think they care about is consistency of user experience. They believe, and I think they are right to do so, that having different types of music with different usage rights confuses customers. One reason I hear for the failure of WMA is that you don't know what you can do with the file unless you read the specific license agreement for it. That alienates customers, and I think not alienating customers is what really separates iTunes from the other servi
      • by plopez (54068)
        Except that they still make money, when they sell you the song in the first place.
      • by ZoneGray (168419)
        Yeah, but they want to sell the songs. Apple could probably make more money by selling you 20-30 DRM-less songs than by selling you an iPod. Maybe it would take 100 songs, I dunno. But using a proprietary store to leverage iPod sales is a losing strategy.

        In fact, if they could sell DRM-free songs through iTunes, they'd probably sell more iPods.

        Understand, it's only a matter of time before MySpace starts selling unprotected downloads, and that'll be a HUGE threat, both to iTunes and the major labels.

        Apple
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      From what others have written, the issue seems to be more that Apple stores the songs without DRM in its database, encrypting them only when the customer downloads. Apple probably instead refuses to invest the programming hours to come up with a solution that flags whether encryption is required or not, since it also means ensuring that there are no mistakes (songs unencrypted where the distributor demands DRM, or DRM added to a song that was supposed to be free, or retroactive release from DRM).

      I think App
      • by Macka (9388)

        Apple probably instead refuses to invest the programming hours to come up with a solution that flags whether encryption is required or not,

        It's a given that encryption happens on the client side (using the users iTunes user account keys) so any optional do/don't DRM flag would have to be embedded in the file and transmitted (unencrypted) from Apple to your PC/Mac. DVD Jon would live this!

        Just how long do you think it would take him (or someone just like him) to sniff out the flag and insert a filter to t

    • by mmeister (862972)
      Also, it is an issue of management. Having to make sure this recording is DRM'd and *that* recording is not sounds like one gigantic management headache to me.

      Kudos to Jobs for publicly going after the recording companies especially given the European issues and the fact that most of these companies are European companies. They seem to want their cake and yours and mine while their stuffing their face eating their own. Greedy bastards!

      RIAA -- you want interoperability? Remove DRM. I guarantee 100% interoper
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Regardless, Jobs' open letter still reeks of insincerity and self servitude. He knows that the record companies will not agree to reduced DRM restrictions and so simply passes the legal and media ball to them. Apple clearly wants to appropriate blame on the record companies to stop the European Union from going after them. Apple and Jobs are great at playing the media and this is a prime example of it.

      There is a vast difference between the record companies and Apple's public relations - the record companie
      • There's a simple test to determine whether or not it's the RIAA who want the DRM. Does there exist a DRM-free store anywhere that sells RIAA music? eMusic is DRM-free, but it doesn't sell most RIAA songs. If the RIAA was willing to allow non-DRMed digital music, there would be someone willing to sell it, and plenty of people willing to buy it. There is no such source, so it stands to logic that it's not just Apple who want DRM.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rho (6063)

      This is almost certainly the case. Jobs, as I recall, had to do a lot of talking to get major labels online with the iTMS. Just being able to put the same song on more than one computer probably took months of begging, threatening and deal-making. I know it's fun to whale on Jobs, but he really is interested in making his customers happy, and I imagine he's fully aware of how annoying the iTMS DRM is for non-technical people.

      Me, I just burn a CD-RW as an audio CD of purchased music and re-import as MP3. S

    • by msobkow (48369)

      It's very possible that Apple's contract bans them from selling non-DRMed music alongside DRMed music.

      That makes a lot of sense, plus it would simplify the distribution stream.

      If the indie artists aren't interested in any profits, there are any number of non-profit distribution mediums they can leverage, including existing BitTorrent networks for MP3's and services that only deliver "free" or "public" content.

      The indie's can't expect Apple to pick up the costs of hosting and distribution without some

  • by AaronLawrence (600990) * on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:46AM (#17933232)
  • Missing links? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ziggamon2.0 (796017) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:46AM (#17933234) Homepage
    Maybe I'm new here, but shouldn't there be links to both the Economist article and DVD Jon's second article?
  • Long Tail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wombatmobile (623057) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:47AM (#17933244)

    Why doesn't Steve open up the iTunes store to indies?

    Chris Anderson's Long Tail [wikipedia.org] research makes it clear that more tunes means more iPod usage, even when those tunes are from the most obscure artists.

    Anderson's thesis arises because "digital music is no longer subject to the artificial barrier of finite shelf space."

    Or at least, that would be the case if stores like iTunes were more accessible.

    C'mon Steve, open wide. Let the long tail wag.

    • first with the current music Apple probably has a short list of people it has to do transactions with. They are also probably granted some indeminity from problems arising from music they sell provided its from the labels.

      with indie music comes a lot of questions.
      how much can Apple charge before they are considered to be exploiting?
      how much does Apple spend on bandwidth per song, this figures into #1.
      who does Apple contract with for payment should the artist want money?
      How much will it cost to maintain al
      • by Marillion (33728)

        Organizations like ASCAP and BMI already have the infrastructure to manage artist royalies for composition/publishing side of the royalties equation.

        Indie music where the composer is also performer (anecdotally, this would cover 99% of it) ASCAP/BMI would already be involed at some level. Not to diminish BMI, but I am going to refer to ASCAP only hereafter because I am most familiar with how it works. ASCAP is a member-owned organization and is free to any writer who meets membership requirements. The b

    • Better yet, make ITMS open to everyone who wants to sell, just like eBay is open to everyone who wants to sell.
    • Jobs' big charade (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      Why would Apple want to lose DRM, even if they could? That would potentially break their iTunes-iPod monopoly (since you could play non-DRM'ed songs on other players besides the iPod).

      Steve Jobs may SAY he hates DRM, but only because he has nothing to lose by saying that. He knows the studios aren't going to cave on DRM, so he gets to keep DRM (and, hence, his iTunes-iPod monopoly) while simultaneously portraying himself as some sort of anti-DRM crusader.

      If you want to see how Jobs *REALLY* feels about

      • Re:Jobs' big charade (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Saint Fnordius (456567) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @10:27AM (#17933674) Homepage Journal
        Apple hates DRM because it's an arms race that sucks up resources. Programmers that could be working on cool code are stuck ensuring that FairPlay doesn't get cracked, and that they get a patch up within the time framed dictated by their contract. Without DRM, the iPod and iTunes codebases could be trimmed to run faster and possibly even allow for the API to be published.
      • repeat after me (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)
        Apple isa hardware company, Apple is a hardware company, APlle is a HARD-Fucking-WARE company.

        They compete on the HARDWARE not the music.
        Otherwise it wouldn't be trivial to get around the DRM by design.

        I can put any mp3 I wan't on the iPod no matter where I got it from. If they wanet lockin it would only play AAC files. Guess what? that wouldn't sell many iPods, which is what they want because they are a hardware company.

        • Re:repeat after me (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ben there... (946946) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @11:00AM (#17934114) Journal

          Apple isa hardware company, Apple is a hardware company, APlle is a HARD-Fucking-WARE company.

          They compete on the HARDWARE not the music.

          You said the same thing here [slashdot.org].

          I can put any mp3 I wan't on the iPod no matter where I got it from. If they wanet lockin it would only play AAC files. Guess what? that wouldn't sell many iPods, which is what they want because they are a hardware company.

          But you're looking at that backwards. It's not about preventing you from playing non-aac formats and locking you into the store. It's about selling you music that only plays on an iPod, and locking you into the iPod. Once you have a $500 collection of iTMS music, it becomes too much of a waste of money to make your next purchase *not* an iPod. Protects their revenue stream. The hardware.
      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @12:04PM (#17934874) Homepage Journal

        I covered this in my journal [slashdot.org] but I'll say it here too:

        The issue is that the landscape has changed. The iTS and iPod exist in a symbiotic relationship where the strength of one strengthens the other. But that's about to come to an end. MP3 playing mobile phones are becoming more and more viable, with flash memory plummeting in price and the carriers themselves seeing OTA music sales as a great way to make use of their under-utilized Internet services. People don't like having to carry multiple devices around, and the convenience factor of a device that is a music store and mobile music player in one is going to, ultimately, trump the iPod. Right now, Apple's saving grace is the relative incompetence of most of the mobile phone makers, they can't rely upon that forever.

        This is one side of the deal. They could have dealt with that by producing a viable mobile iTunes player and licensing it, or by dominating the mobile phone market, but what they've actually decided to do is enter the mobile phone market as a niche player. This makes them a competitor to all the other manufacturers, who are unlikely to license any kind of "mobile iTunes", and also means they'll never get a substantial market share of the new market in the same way that they did the iPod. One can make all kinds of guesses as to why they've decided to do this, but the bottom line is that Apple's days as the #1 seller of MP3 playing hardware are numbered.

        The other is Vista. Vista has upped the ante in terms of DRM available. Mac users will be locked out of the content that will be available under Vista's DRM, and those chosing to publish content under a DRM scheme will see Vista's, as the one available to the most number of people, as being the one to go for.

        It is no longer in Apple's best long term interests to promote DRM. In fact, DRM is likely to bite it to a point that its own platform may well no longer be viable within a few years.

        Apple has, at least, dealt with that in one way: their computers, if push comes to shove, are capable of running Windows, and if it becomes a really serious issue, Apple could migrate to a Windows based platform. This would be the end of them as a company with control over their own platform, and would make them another Boutique computer maker like Lenovo and Sony. So naturally it's not where they want to go.

        So I honestly believe Jobs is sincere when he claims to dislike DRM. He does... now that it's looking like it'll be a serious problem for Apple in the future. A successful DRM scheme from a competitor could well destroy Apple's position as an independent computer maker, making them beholden to that competitor and its interests. Such a situation has not been as realistic in the past as it is today.

        One more thing: If Vista's DRM starts to take off, it may be time for Apple to take the gloves off with respect to Mac OS X market share. I'll leave you to speculate as to what they could do to make that happen.

    • by mveloso (325617)


      The iTunes store -is- open to Indies. It could be that (1) you're not looking in the right place, or (2) the labels in question are too lazy to sign up. It's not that hard to do, apparently.
  • I have worked on my church's podcasts and know that podcasts on iTunes can be DRM-free. Maybe the rules for music are different on the iT(M)S. Then again, individuals can submit pocasts but my indie band friend had to submit her albums through an intermediary.
  • Confusion free? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:51AM (#17933290) Journal
    "It should not take Apple's iTunes team more than 2-3 days to implement a solution for not wrapping content with FairPlay when the content owner does not mandate DRM. This could be done in a completely transparent way and would not be confusing to the users."

    Yeah, right. Tell that to the vast majority of non-tech savvy iTunes users, who don't understand why they can't make an MP3 CD of their purchased music. I have a friend who likes to make "Mix" CD's for other friends, and they keep getting frustrated when iTunes tells them some of their tracks can't be converted to MP3. I've tried explaining DRM to them, but for the typical layperson, it goes right over their heads.
    • ... they keep getting frustrated when iTunes tells them some of their tracks can't be converted to MP3. I've tried explaining DRM to them, but for the typical layperson, it goes right over their heads.

      They are not confused, DRM simply sucks. Explaining the details is as pointless and asinine as a hide tanning lecture while someone is whipped. DRM is the ultimate non free expression, secrets created to dominate and abuse. The greed of the artist, the publisher and the listener are all played to create

      • by AusIV (950840) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @11:06AM (#17934198)

        They are not confused, DRM simply sucks.

        You're incredibly naive if your really believe that. I've had to explain to my girlfriend on three separate occasions that her music will only work on iTunes or an iPod, and that I can't play it on my Linux computer. I had to convince her sister that if she bought a Creative mp3 player, her music from iTunes wouldn't work on it. Apple makes it easy for people to play their music and transfer it to their iPod. Unless somebody has bought a music player other than an iPod and tried to transfer music, tried to burn an mp3 cd, or tried to use Linux, most likely they're only loosely aware that there are some things they can't do with their iTunes music. Apple's DRM is not nearly as restrictive as it could be. If nothing else just burn a regular CD and rip it back. You may care about quality, but the difference isn't enough for most users to care.

        The greed of the artist, the publisher and the listener are all played to create a dishonest deal in which none have real choices.

        Again, you have no idea what you're talking about. The artist often gets a very minimal cut of sales on iTunes, and only complies because otherwise they could lose other contracts. I'd hardly call it greedy to try and keep your job. The listener has a choice between driving to the store and buying a CD, downloading something illegally (the greediest option), or downloading it from iTunes. Then they have as many choices as they have with a CD, because they can in fact burn the music to a CD. There are two groups that could be construed as particularly greedy. The publisher, who chose DRM in an attempt to prevent piracy, would go under if everyone shared digital music freely. Then there's Apple, the distributor, who seems to have the most to gain by locking people to a platform. But Apple is saying that decision lies with the distributors.

        As far as why Apple doesn't sell some tracks without DRM, I don't think its so much a matter of confusion as not wanting to advertise DRM. As I've stated, there are iTunes users out there who don't realize there are restrictions on their music. If the music store didn't distinguish between DRM free tracks and tracks with DRM, users would never know for sure what they're getting until they'd bought it. But if they put anything to indicate that some tracks have DRM and some tracks don't, it would call attention to DRM, and users would begin to realize their music had restrictions on them. Whether you'll admit it or not, right now most iTMS customers are blissfully ignorant towards DRM, and the only way Apple is going to make sure every user knows about DRM is going to be in the context that the iTMS is now DRM Free.

    • by walt-sjc (145127)
      I guess I don't understand your friend. If you tell him that DRM is the software lock on music file that is prohibiting him from converting it to an MP3, what else is there to understand? Is he asking for the gory technical details that he has no hope of understanding anyway? It's pretty damn straight forward.

      DRM is like carbon monoxide. You can't "see" it, but when it's there it can cause you serious problems.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:55AM (#17933336)
    Getting distribution on iTunes is not as hard as was suggested.

    If you produce a CD and follow the instructions to have your disc sold on CDBaby.com, they will submit your music to iTunes. In the case of music I've submitted, there was a delay of about six weeks; then we got word that we were live on iTunes.

    This is not the full ticket to Hollywood. It's not a huge hurdle either. It's one of many small cumulative things that you do to get your music out there.

    Notably there was no contractual lock-in with CDBaby or with iTunes. They own nothing, we retain our copyrights and our ability to distribute in any other channel we like. The whole thing has been artist-friendly.

    Our R&B artist on iTunes:

    http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/ viewAlbum?playListId=202470955 [apple.com]

    Our other music (ambient & progressive rock) http://www.workshopmusic.com/streams.html [workshopmusic.com]
    • by Ksempac (934247)
      The problem is not "getting my song on iTunes". The problem is "getting my song on iTunes WITHOUT DRM".

      iTunes is the world biggest online music store, so of course you want your song on it. You expect that, in doing so, more people will buy it.
      However, right now, if you dont like DRM and dont want your customer to be locked to his iPod, there is no way to be on iTunes. Some artists dont want their listeners to be restricted in their use of their music. Putting their song on another website wont solve the
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:57AM (#17933358)
    Jobs also came out strongly in favor of:

    * Ponies for everyone - who doesn't love ponies?

    * Rainbows everyday - wouldn't the world be just that much better?

    * Love - it doesn't have to be just for dirty hippies

    You gotta hand it to Jobs and his bold stance of anti-DRM and pro ponies, love, and rainbows. Let's all go out and buy incremental upgrades to our iPods!

    • You said it better than I could. I don't really believe a word Jobs said. Apple's lock-in is the best thing they have going for them right now. My opinion is that Apple realized they only need part of the catalog to have DRM to maintain their lock-in, and by doing away with DRM on some purchases, they gain customers that don't want DRM. But they still have the initial DRM-forgiving customers, who are still locked in. That or he knew that none of the record companies would give up DRM, yet said it anyway for
      • by geekoid (135745)
        He has fought against DRM since implimenting iTunes. He know it ultimatly can't work, which means it is a bad business descision.

        If it was about lock in, then you wouldn't be able to get around it so easily by design.

        Apple is a hardware company. They want to sell iPods and they want to be a full service solution.

        The easier it is to sell music, and the easier it is for Apples clients to do what they want with the music it purchased, the more iPods he sells.

        Yes his statement was self serving, but it wasn't li
    • You missed Free Beer. Best not to lose that entire demographic. ;-)

      In fact, I've already suggested that if Obama really wants to win, he needs to add that in the platform. Oddly enough, I haven't gotten any response back yet.
  • FTFA:

    There may be 90 million iPods sold, but not all of them are currently in use.

    Okay, but on the other hand, not all owned songs are used in iPods (or used) at all, either. Personally, I've got a couple gigs of music that I don't really listen to, and aren't on my iPod. For example, I have the soundtracks of some video games, which are great when I'm in the mood (read: free time), but generally I listen to my iPod when I'm walking to class. For another example, I've bought one or two CD's for a really goo

  • by DoctorPepper (92269) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @10:10AM (#17933464)
    We each own an iPod (30 GB Video), and we both have quite a lot of music on them. We each ripped the CD's out of our collection that we wanted to our respective computer, using iTunes (we both have Macs, although I use my Linux computer more), and we independently sync our iPods with that music. Neither of us has even one song that we didn't either purchase on CD or through iTMS, and neither one of us would even think of "borrowing" a CD from someone else, with the intent to rip the tracks for our own use.

    I really don't get the piracy thing. If you are going to listen to the music, then you should pay for it, whether that be from purchasing the CDs, or through a legitimate on-line music service. I also don't care to hear arguments against this, because those that argue the loudest are usually the ones with the most non-purchased music in their library. They are being just as self-serving as Mr. Jobs.

    Personally, I wish we could do away with DRM, because it is quite difficult to play the songs I legally purchased off of iTMS on my Linux computer. I think that is a load of crap, and that it severely cuts into my fair-use rights, which nobody seems to care about.
    • "...those that argue the loudest are usually the ones with the most non-purchased music in their library."

      yeah, because you get to check their computers.

      Nice assumption.

      I suppose you also believe that people who believe Pot should be legal also smoke it?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Myopic (18616)
        Yeah! Exactly! You tell him brother! That's like assuming just because a man is a member of NAMBLA, that he likes to have sex with little boys! Totally ludicrous!
    • and i have never pruchased a song online

      since 1999, my musical tastes have grown eclectic, and my musical collection has grown huge and varied and rich

      what piracy has enabled me to do is to "grow up" outside of american pop music and embrace music from the world. to download trance music from the netherlands, bhangra from india, soca from trinidad, wierd love ballads from japan, and strange slow ditties from the philippines

      the existence of the rich esoterica easy at my fingertips would have been impossible
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      I really don't get the piracy thing. If you are going to listen to the music, then you should pay for it, whether that be from purchasing the CDs, or through a legitimate on-line music service. I also don't care to hear arguments against this, because those that argue the loudest are usually the ones with the most non-purchased music in their library. They are being just as self-serving as Mr. Jobs.

      This isn't a pro-"piracy" discussion. Maybe you're confused over what DRM is?


      Personally, I wish we could d

    • by aralin (107264) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @11:43AM (#17934614)
      So do you have CDs that you both listen to? Do you feel that is ok? Did you rip those CDs to both of your computers? Do you feel that is ok? If you share your iTunes library over network, can you put unprotected songs from the shared library directly on your iPod? Do you feel that is ok?

      Somewhere in there the CDs and MP3s are being treated differently. Why is it ok if you buy a CD to let your wife listen to it, to let her rip it to her iTunes library and put it on her iPOd. Why do you think it is ok for her to listen to the song on her iPod while you can listen to it on your iPod as well? And at the same time? And why when you buy a song from iTunes Store, why don't you have the same liberty? Which one of those is right?

      So do you get it now?
  • it's not a technical matter, it's a business matter.

  • A Major Injustice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roughtrader (1061478) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @10:20AM (#17933576) Homepage
    When devising our digital store (www.roughtrade.com), we didn't for one moment consider having DRM catalogue included. Contrary to it being a marketing issue of differentiation against would-be digital competitors, us opting to sell only DRM-free MP3's has been moral stance informed by three decades of selling music. We consider it morally wrong to impose one set of ownership rights (on the same album) to those customers preferring to buy one format and not another - instead, we treat all our customers the same, whatever format they decide to purchase. To do otherwise would be disrespectful to our customers accrued over thirty years. As it currently stands, major labels have ignored our long-standing retail support and that of our customers (arguably the roots of their prosperity) in favour of imposing DRM and thereby propagating an uncompetitive digital retail market, whereby retailers such as ourselves are unfairly discriminated against to the continued advantage of an effective monopoly. For Rough Trade, music is not a content driver, music is a passion shared with like-minded people over a counter or website. The more music retailers that uphold this value, the more prosperous our industry would surely become. The sooner DRM is scrapped by major labels, the sooner we can present our long-established customer base a consistent offer, whether they visit our London stores, buy online at our mail-order website, or download MP3 from our digital store website. The end result being we can compete on a level playing field, allowing music lovers to choose their digital retailer based on 'music lover' factors such as the retailers ability to recommend exciting new music, and not uncompetitive, discriminating terms of format availability.
  • apple (Score:4, Funny)

    by jjeffries (17675) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @10:22AM (#17933606)
    >It should not take Apple's iTunes team more than 2-3 days to implement a solution for not wrapping content with FairPlay...

    Yes, but that doesn't include the six months needed to design the new icons...
  • A major player is calling for the abolishment of DRM! Rejoice! DRM should be abolish. His opinion holds more weight in public circles (entertainment, politics, technology) than the thousands that post here daily. Who cares what his reason is? Let's see if Bill gates or Steve Balmer make a similar self-serving statement.
  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @10:38AM (#17933812) Homepage Journal
    between hardware manufacturers and content creators

    just this morning, i read this (Hollywood Takes Its Concerns About Piracy and Taxes to Washington [nytimes.com]):

    In a rare moment of newsmaking, Barry M. Meyer, the chairman of Warner Brothers, issued a sharp rebuke to the president of the Consumer Electronics Association, Gary Shapiro, who warned in January that antipiracy efforts could "smother" technological progress and said that "private conduct may be unauthorized, but that does not mean it is piracy."

    Mr. Meyer took issue with calling the theft of intellectual property merely unauthorized rather than illegal, and said that Hollywood's promotion of so-called digital rights management technology had made it possible for consumers to rent or buy movies and TV programs at a variety of prices.

    "It's easy to demonize it, but without some level of control and order, things don't work," he said. "The only choice we're not offering is free."

    He added: "Unlike the technology industry, which can outrun pirates by upgrading their product, there is no 'Gone With the Wind 2.0.' "


    i have a feeling that the prime mover and shaker in the wars for/ against drm will be fought mainly along this battlefront. so either hardware manufacturers, by ignoring content creators, will drag content creators kicking and screaming into reality, or content creators will probably, as a mode of attack, simply buy hardware manufacturers, and silence them via business channels

    some, like sony, are both hardware and content creators. internal battles on the issue within sony might be revelatory for what our future holds

    i'm actually pretty upbeat about the future in this regard though. people like jobs show that hardware manufacturers are just as willing to dream about bullying around content creators as visa versa. it was the content creators dithering and denial on the subject of downloadability that allowed jobs to create iTunes and lead us into the future, so to say. from an obvious business perspective in terms of natural fit, content creators should have been the ones offering a download storefront on the internet, but they didn't out of their fear and panic about what the internet meant to their existence. along came a hardware manufacturer, with nothing to lose on the content front, and therefore no fear, and filled the natural void of consumer want/ need that wasn't being filled as it should have naturally been filled by the content creators. and for dithering as they did, now content creators are in a deeper hole because they have to deal with a formidable opponent, jobs, with nothing to lose and no reason not to defy content creators. he is now in charge of the largest growing revenue stream for the content creators, not one of their own stooges. good for the consumer

    and besides, even if all of american hardware and content creators were consolidated business-wise against the interests of us, the consumers, there is always hardware manufacturers in china, or russia, or india, or europe, who would be all too happy to steal the lions share of the marketplace from consumers sick of the ridiculous 1984-style limitations on their hardware that would obviously result from collusion between hardware and content creators

    in other words, i don't think content creators have enough business muscle AND international clout to completely limit the range of drm-free options we as consumers will be able to access hardware-wise. and therefore, content creators and their dreams of completely controlling how we access our own culture is doomed ;-)

    an odious intrusion, simply because they want to preserve their antiquated pre-internet business model. no, i have a better option: why don't you just fade away and die, movie/ music conglomerates? you need us. we don't need you. welcome to the future: the internet has rendered old style media distribution models, where you could easily put up your tolls, archaic. in the future, artists will reach consumers directly

    in short, you're history
  • by Biff98 (633281) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @10:42AM (#17933858)
    I applaud Jon for his words. TheRegister.com also ran a story about the Norwegian official complaining RE: Steve Job's "passing the buck" style attitude. It can be found here. [theregister.com]
  • Indie Music (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dcw3 (649211) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @10:48AM (#17933938) Journal
    There are... many Indie artists who would love to sell DRM-free music on iTunes, but Apple will not allow them

    I'm all for allowing Indie artists access. My question is how would you implement this, and not end up with every American Idol reject? How would the typical user be able to sift through it all to find talent vs. a bunch of basement bands? Sure a rating system would be helpful, but if I'm searching by song names could still end up with long lists of remakes. There needs to be some sort of minimum standard, otherwise the system will get unwieldy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by prockcore (543967)

      I'm all for allowing Indie artists access. My question is how would you implement this, and not end up with every American Idol reject?


      How do they do it now? 30% of the music on iTunes right now is from indie labels.

      The problem isn't indie labels can't sell on iTunes, it's that they can't sell on iTunes without DRM. Apple requires DRM for everyone.. Apple, not the labels.
  • by Lysol (11150) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @11:07AM (#17934222)

    Why is this creating such a commotion, or better yet, why are people arguing against Jobs? I'm no apologist, but his stance made 100% perfect sense to me.

    DRM:
    Look, if you are required by some companies to use DRM, what are you going to do? 1., use it or 2., don't and don't sell their music. I think DRM is a sham, but it's pretty clear what the companies want that own the music they license out to iTunes.

    iPod:
    Again, I agree with Jobs here. The iPod plays MP3 and AAC, which can both be considered 'standards'. The only thing missing, of course, is Ogg. But this is pretty good. I don't see anyone bitching much about the Zune which has THE WORST DRM imaginable on a player. Not only is your DRM-free songs wrapped in DRM, but when you share (or squirt - jesus..) these with the social - this is ANY track mind you - it's wrapped in DRM and the receiver can only listen to it 3 times and/or it expires automagically in something like three days. I can't begin to say how unbelievably lame this is for the consumer, but makes perfect sense to the record companies. Where's the uproar against the worlds largest software company regarding that?

    iTS:
    Yes, it does not sell all indie labels (some tho) and yes, Apple probably could roll in something to allow non-DRM stuff to work perfectly with DRM stuff. But again, without having priviledged access to the project/source, who's to say how that could be done. I'm sure it could be though. I still think Apple does a pretty good job with the iTS. I mean how many other music stores out there fight with the record cartel to keep prices low? If it was Bill G or Ballmer or whoever else, you know they wouldn't give a shit about $.99 price and kowtow to the labels every wish. This is a FACT.

    Licensing FairPlay:
    I'm with Jobs on this one. M$ tried it with the 'Plays For Sure' and look where they are now, copying iTS/iPod. For a company providing a product, NOT a socially beneficial service, it makes sense to keep it small and in control. Doesn't mean I support FairPlay, but from a practical product standpoint, Jobs is right and the real goal is to get RID of FairPlay, not expand it to more vendors.

    In the end, again, I don't know what all the fuss is about. Of course the Microsoft club is gonna slam everything Jobs does - cuz they're not #1 in that area, so they'll naturally hate everything else. But the Econ calling the article 'self serving'? I dunno, I guess, but how is taking the labels to task so self serving? When did Ballmer last call for the labels to drop DRM? Or any other big computer/electronics exec? I think Gates went as far as mentioning at one point that DRM "won't work" but, that falls very short compared to Jobs speech.

    I also don't look at the iPod as some big monopolistic, lock in mechanism. I can play all the formats I use on it except, again, Ogg. And for indie artists, there's always eMusic or CDs. The Econ article, and many others, cite lock-in as a argument the EU is using, but seriously, why would someone jump ship to a player from M$ or Sony? Plus, what does Jobs really have to lose if the EU rules iTS/iPod illegal? Fine, worst case, don't sell to them. And then what DRM will the EU run to? M$? Sony? Or will they spend years and years coming up with some 'standard' that then fades away when the labels finally cave in to unprotected tracks, but only because consumers demanded it from them? The EU may sue or whatever, but Apple dropping FairPlay is not going to happen and again, music players are not computers, so the 'lock-in' will fade.

    I think, if anything, more people should be backing Jobs. What other high profile hardware maker is saying the same? M$? Sony? Creative? Sandisk? His stance on having the EU look at EMI and Universal is dead on. I've been in the music industry and they ARE the culprit in this case. 100%. If anyone opened up an online music store tomorrow and wanted major label music, it w

  • by argent (18001) <peter@NOspam.slashdot.2006.taronga.com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @11:09AM (#17934250) Homepage Journal
    Jon's position reminds me of an old joke:

    A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?"

    The man below says, "Yes, you're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field."

    "You must be an engineer", says the balloonist.

    "I am", replies the man. "How did you know?"

    "Well", says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but it's of no use to anyone."


    Technically, since Apple doesn't do the encryption until after download, it would be trivial to implement.

    The problem isn't implementing it, the problem is that unless the Big Four labels go along with it there's a huge risk and no benefit. One of Apple's "lines in the sand" for the iTunes Music Store right from the start was that all music would be available on the same terms: you can play ALL the songs in the store on 5 computers, you can burn them ALL to disc, they ALL cost the same. Making an exception for a few small labels, or even a lot of them, may violate their existing contract with the big four and would certainly hurt them when they have to renegotiate.

    And there's no need: eMusic.com already fills that market, and it's cheaper than the iTunes store!

    But wait, there's more! Let's complete the joke:

    The man below says, "You must be in management."

    "I am", replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

    "Well", says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault. "


    Nah, Jon, I'm in the same position I was before, and it's not a problem, so it's nobody's fault. See, I'm one of the people who's supposed to be locked in to the iPod.

    I've bought 286 tracks from the iTunes Music Store, plus a dozen TV shows. That's over $300, and I'm not locked in at all. I've played this music on an iPod Shuffle, an HP Pocket PC, and a cheap Magic Star MP3 player. I have done this using nothing but Apple's own software, unmodified, using instructions provided by Apple on their website.

    Yes, technically, I've lost a fraction of the sound quality by remixing their old ad campaign into "mix, burn, rip", but who cares? Buying music where absolute fidelity matters from the iTMS is daft... you've accepted a loss in quality just by buying it in lossy-compressed format to begin with. I buy classical music on CD, and I don't listen to it in a noisy office through tiny earbuds.

    The real lock-in for iPods isn't the music, it's the accessories. Apple's changed the iPod form factor and connectors far less often than their competitors, so there's easily a dozen times as many accessories available for the iPod as for any other MP3 player... probably than all the others put together.

    Right now, I don't have an MP3 player. My daughter's iPod Mini broke, so I gave her my shuffle. I'm looking at new MP3 players now, and right now I'm inclined to get something other than an iPod. The new shuffle looks sweet, but I don't like the click-wheel on the higher end iPods. If I decide to stick with a flash based player I'll probably get an iPod Shuffle, but the Toshiba Gigabeat (the real thing, not Microsoft's rebadged "Zune") looks pretty good.
  • by catdevnull (531283) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @11:25AM (#17934400)
    It's pretty clear to me that Jobs is just practicing the ancient art of Noshitonmi. He's bouncing the blame off of him and saying that the devil made him do it.

    Mafiaa legions already trolling for "examples" already makes them the bad guy. With Europe stacking up on him, Jobs is just assuming the classic Noshitonmi stance to deflect all negative energy towards the Mafiaa.

    Quite brilliant, actually.

    He better start stretching, though. Those new Noshitonmi poses he's going to need for SEC investigations are gonna require special foo.
  • by itsdapead (734413) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @11:52AM (#17934722)

    There are... many Indie artists who would love to sell DRM-free music on iTunes, but Apple will not allow them...

    Indies are perfectly free (individually or co-operatively) get a paypal account and a website and sell their own DRM-free music. Maybe there will be fewer sales, but the profit margins should be rather better. I listen to one group that bankrolls the production of each new album by asking fans to pay for it in advance (currently CDs, though - but its prog, so not very download friendly anyway).

    There seems to be a circular argument here that iTMS is the only game in town. The whole point about internet sales is that its easy(er) for little guys to sell to the world. If you want a lock-in then I'm pretty sure that if most indies could only get some fricking airplay then enough people would google for their webshop.

  • by mveloso (325617) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @12:56PM (#17935554)
    Everyone in this debate, including the European governments in question, assumes that the reason the iPod was successful was its tie (or, as critics would say, lock-in) to the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) via FairPlay. Open iTMS or Fairplay, and you reduce the iPod's dominance. That's the theory.

    This, however, isn't necessarily the case.

    While the iPod and iTunes Music Store are promoted hand-in-hand, the technical (ie: you and me) know that you don't need to buy music from iTMS. The iPod is a wonderful music player; you can rip and/or load your music onto your pod in lossless or lossy formats, without DRM, if you so desire. The iTMS makes it easier to load music onto your iPod, but the iPod will play a whole bunch of formats, most of which are DRM-free.

    So why the focus on FairPlay and iTMS? Because Steve Jobs is a sneaky guy.

    The conventional wisdom is that the iTMS is a loss leader for iPods; its only reason for existence is to "trap" people into buying and keeping their iPods. It follows that if the people weren't locked into iTMS and Fairplay, they'd be free to buy other players. That's why everyone wants to force Apple to license FairPlay.

    But what if the iTMS sold music in the WMA format? What if Apple licensed FairPlay? What if Apple supported WMA on the iPod? Would that increase the sales of other music players? Would that increase the traffic to alternative music stores?

    When it's spelled out like this, the fallacy, and the answer is obvious: probably not.

    By keeping the focus on DRM, Jobs is keeping the iPod safe. The iPod isn't successful because of its tie to iTMS. It's successful because it's a good product that people want to buy. DRM is a red herring, a bargaining chip that can be pulled or offered when the need arises. By keeping the focus on FairPlay, Apple is making sure that nobody in the business is focusing on what they should be doing, namely, making a device that's better than an iPod. It's unbelievable that after 5 years, there are no players that are qualitatively equal to or better than the iPod. Likewise, in 3 years there are no music stores that are qualitatively as good as or better than iTMS.

    In the end, Apple may make more money from licensing FairPlay than from the iTMS. By being licensing FairPlay and charging a royalty per song and per device sold, Apple could take a piece of every device and song sold for the next decade or more...and they'd effectively be forced to do that by the music industry and the various misguided European governments. And as a bonus, there would be little to no impact on iPod sales. A serious win-win for Apple.

    Look for third-party Fairplay licensees after the upcoming negotiations, and watch Apple get thrown right into the briar patch.
  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:07PM (#17935684)
    If Jobs is sincere regarding a DRM-free world, let him, as the largest Disney shareholder, provide DRM-free Disney content:
    Let all Disney BluRay discs be DRM-free.
    Let all Disney DVDs be unprotected.
    Let all Disney online content be DRM-free.

    He can talk all he wants about DRM-free music, but let's see him make his own company's created content available in DRM-free form. Until then, his words regarding DRM-free music are simply a PR play, nothing more.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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