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Music Execs Say Apple's DRM Hurting Industry 405

Posted by Zonk
from the reference-the-pot-and-the-kettle's-similar-color-here dept.
EMB Numbers writes "C-Net says last year saw a 131 percent jump in digital sales, but overall the industry still saw about a 4 percent decline in revenue. Some executives at this week's Digital Music Forum East conference lashed out at Jobs, blaming Apple and its CEO for their troubles. The impression at the conference was that Jobs' call three weeks ago for DRM-free music was anything but sincere. As the article puts it, 'Apple has maintained a stranglehold on the digital music industry by locking up iTunes music with DRM ... and "it's causing everybody else who is participating in the marketplace — the other service providers, the labels, the users — a lot of pain. If they could simply open it up, everybody would love them.""
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Music Execs Say Apple's DRM Hurting Industry

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  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday March 01, 2007 @02:58PM (#18197290)
    DRM is what's hurting the (online) music industry. It needs to be eliminated, not "opened up".[1] Looks like the industry is a little irked at Jobs' statement.

    Apple has already laid down its cards. "Open" DRM (can there be such a thing?[2]) is just as bad as any other DRM. It does not serve the customer.

    The labels are hurting the industry with DRM. Apple is willing to ditch it wholesale (i.e., isn't interested in iTunes/iPod "lock-in").

    The ball's in the music industry's court, not Apple's.

    [1] Arguments about whether or not there would have been an iTunes store in the first place aside. There is one now, and online music has made a good showing. It's up to the industry to decide how to proceed, not Apple. Simply changing the face of DRM isn't a "step in the right direction."

    [2] Yes, I know what they mean by "open" DRM. But who's it open to? Only other competitive music stores? So we can have one universal DRM "standard"? Aside from the massive technical hurdles to coalescing DRM with all the disparate formats and stores, is that really the right step to take?
    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Aadain2001 (684036) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:02PM (#18197340) Journal
      I agree. I read the summary and was simply dumb struck with how oblivious those Music Exec. are to the true cause of their suffering. Maybe instead of blaming everyone else, look in the mirror you idiots! You have fought digital online music since your first heard the term "MP3". Top that off with suing your own customers in mass, and its no wonder your revenue is falling! People don't want to buy from you!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gr8Apes (679165)
        You know - here's a thought - is the music industry really in any trouble whatsoever? Think about this - their claim to woe and "damage" is that revenue is dropping. Isn't that what's supposed to happen when your costs drop? Note with online transactions they're not incurring any manufacturing, packaging, shipping, nor physical theft/damage losses, all which raise the price of physical media vs online media, not to mention dead inventory.

        It should also be noted that previous numbers were most likely inflate
      • by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @04:48PM (#18198934)
        Counterintuitively, apple DRM being exclusive to apple's store is good for the consumer while being bad for the music industry companies. here me out.

        Imagine apple opened up it's DRM to other stores. Now Sony goes to store B, C and D, which are rivals, and says we'll let the first one of you agree to our new rules have exclusive access toour top artists. Namely we want you will charge $7.99 and bundle them in sets of 5. No more singles and no more $1 songs.

        Well duh, one of them will Kowtow. And it won't be apple which will sputter along trying to enforce the $1-single song rule.

        Thus the only thing keeping the status quo which we all like ($1 songs and ability to buy singles) is apple's exclusive control of it's DRM. The moment that vanishes the Music INdustry has us in its claws.

        So pray that apple does not open it's DRM to other stores.

        Now on the flip side if all music is sold without DRM, well then there's another enformcement mechanism. If the music industry charges too much and forces song bubdling too much then Gnapster like trading services make a comeback, made all the easier by the lack of DRM on a much large song base.

        So Jobs I think was right, but for different reasons than he stated. The most consumer freindly situation is that DRM be apple only or not at all. Apple is a good watch dog in this case because they profit from keeping song prices and tersm consumer freindly since that favors iPod sales as long as there is DRM. Second, they make a good watchdog because they are not threatened if DRM entirely vanishes. THe only thing threatening them is if the Music industry starts dictating higher prices and bundling songs because that will move sales off to crappy user unfreindly sites and diminsh the appeal of the ipod.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by minus_273 (174041)
      if you want a good feel for how bad this open DRM is try using the new bittorrent store or even better with free TV try using the AOL In2TV [aol.com] great site with a ton of good content for free download. Yet after each commercial during the show, you need to go back to the site and get re authorized for the DRM. Absolute pain in the ass.
    • by timeOday (582209)

      Apple is willing to ditch it wholesale (i.e., isn't interested in iTunes/iPod "lock-in").
      Could you further explain that? I would think millions of people's music locked exclusively to Apple hardware would be enough to make Jobs swoon.

      In any case, sure is nice to be an onlooker as music execs "feel the burn" of DRM, isn't it? Kinda sucks when everything is locked to somebody else's best interests without regard to you, doesn't it?

      • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:11PM (#18197500)
        Could you further explain that?

        Sure.

        Jobs said it would get rid of DRM in a heartbeat on all media on the iTunes Music Store. I believe that to be true.

        Further, I think Apple believes that it would actually be in a better position without DRM than with in terms of sales volume and customer satisfaction.

        Long before the iTunes Store existed, the iPod was already the best selling music player. That's because it didn't suck, not because people were "locked in" to iTunes. In another way, you could argue that even before the store, you still got the most benefit from iPod by using it in conjunction with iTunes.

        So in some respects I agree that Apple definitely encourages people to use its products and the "ecosystems" that go along with them (iLife, iTunes Store, and so on), but Jobs doesn't feel that DRM is good for the industry as a whole, and indeed only hurts and confuses honest consumers, in addition to never stopping piracy, since it will always be able to be defeated.

        So, to expand on this a bit, would Apple be happy if it lost customers? No. But I believe Apple thinks the iTunes/iPod combo is so compelling to most ordinary consumers that they'd get even more customers without DRM. Apple doesn't need DRM to keep people on iTunes and iPod.
        • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

          by k2enemy (555744) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:40PM (#18197966)


          in other words...

          with DRM: apple gets a big share of the pie
          without DRM: apple gets a slightly smaller share (debatable) of a much bigger pie

          apple has huge market share because their products are better than everyone else's, not because consumers are locked into itunes. i don't think ditching DRM would hurt apple at all.

          • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Steve525 (236741) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @04:10PM (#18198396)
            with DRM: apple gets a big share of the pie
            without DRM: apple gets a slightly smaller share (debatable) of a much bigger pie


            Just to add to that...

            With "open" DRM (multiple music stores using Apple's DRM):
            apple gets a slightly smaller share (debatable) of the same pie.

            Having apple open their DRM to other music stores does nothing to benefit apple, and very little to benefit customers. Choice is good, but unless another store is going to be able to signficantly beat apple's price or selection (and it's the music industry that ultimately sets this, not the store), what's the point? Some people might decide to buy from a different store when Microsoft bundles their next browser with it, but it'll do little to actually grow things. All it will do is hurt apple.
            • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

              by syphax (189065) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @04:52PM (#18198964) Journal

              I think you've nailed it.

              I try not to take anything Steve Jobs says at face value. That whole RDF thing. I am impressed by his business acumen, but I don't see him as a straight-talker.

              I think the reason Jobs is willing to be very openly anti-DRM now is that he does not see Apple's DRM lock-in business model lasting much longer due to intense legal pressure in various regions (France, etc.). It looks like rather than fight an MS-style battle to the end to protect its lock-in model, Apple plans to suck it up and nimbly move to the next stage in the digital music business cycle, which involves smaller share of a bigger market. It should be clear to observers now that Apple isn't all that interested in market share- they are interested in profit (and superior design).

              So, Apple sees that it's locked-in days are numbered, and that non-proprietary DRM doesn't help it's bottom line. The only remaining option is removing DRM and pushing to expand the total market. This option also just happens to provide Jobs with the opportunity to be a hero to the masses for publicly panning DRM, which has a not-insignificant impact on Apple's brand- Apple is just that much more cooler now.

              So, kudos to Mr. Jobs. I think he's taken his current stance with Apple's bottom line in mind, but in this case it just happens to coincide with the best interest of Apple's customers. Nicely done.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Trillan (597339)
            It's definitely debatable. I suspect Apple couldn't give two shakes about "vendor lock in," and it probably annoys them more than anything else.

            See, Apple has confidence they have the best music player. That means that if everyone removed DRM, Apple would have a larger share of a much bigger pie. Even if some users moved away from the iPod, after their new device breaks (or gets sufficienty annoying), Apple's confident they'll come back to the iPod. At that point, the lack of "lock in" helps Apple.

            "Lock in"
        • Apple is probably aware that many people don't buy from iTunes Music Store because they don't want DRM-crippled music. Perhaps they are sitting on market research which indicates that *more* people would buy from iTunes Music Store were it not for DRM. (If you're like me, and I know I am, you buy music on a CD and rip it to your iTunes player then sync it to your iPod. DRM-free.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DJCacophony (832334)
      Jobs only said he was opposed to DRM because he knew that it wouldn't make a difference. It was a publicity stunt, but nothing more. He simply announced "hey guys, I hate DRM as much as all you, but I'm being forced to use it. I'm the victim here." If given the choice to ditch DRM or not, you had better believe Apple would choose not to. They make more money the way it is now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Apple doesn't make money on the downloads and they don't make money off of iPod's because of iTunes. They make money off of iPods because iPods have seriously outdone the other music players/companies. Are the technical features of an iPod that much greater than others? nope, in some cases it's inferior (no built in FM tuner, etc) and yet iPod is STILL the number one music player. People want that player, regardless of whether or not they use iTunes.

        If iTunes opens up to non-DRM (AAC) stuff, iPods w
        • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:23PM (#18197674)

          Apple doesn't make money on the downloads and they don't make money off of iPod's because of iTunes.

          They do make some money from downloads from iTunes, but not a whole lot. Best estimates are consistently coming in at about $.04 a track.

          Yippee.

          What the labels are REALLY pissed about here is there's a medium that's successful and popular and growing over which they have little control. They subverted the radio long ago by Payola and it's more sophisticated successors, and MTV became irrelevant the minute they stopped showing videos.

          What they just can't seem to grasp is the iTunes is the least of their worries. Once more and more bands become popular via MySpace and the like and home recording gets better and better, the label's usefulness to a band will get smaller and smaller. They should be more worried about acts like Bare Naked Ladies taking their music to the web: That will hurt them more than Apple ever did.

          • they're the problem. they are not in control any more, customers are, and that's why they are running wild as wolves on crack in the courts trying to get some control.

            they won't.

            worst case is, we become a police state on rent to the RIAA, and the commercial music business completely dies out. you'll have your bar bands and individuals making their own music, no more supermegagroups and no more boy/girl band of the month bullshit.

            best case is, the back libraries become fully availiable, every scratch and w
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by iminplaya (723125)
            They should be more worried about acts like Bare Naked Ladies taking their music to the web...

            They are very concerned about that. It's the real reason they're trying to stamp out P2P. They want everything to be "client-server", where only they can be the server. Piracy is the distraction used to bring the public around to their way of thinking. It has been working for almost 300 years. No reason to change now.
      • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:17PM (#18197604)
        This post of mine will answer your questions:

        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=222358&cid=180 14768 [slashdot.org]

        In short, I think the conspiracy theories that Jobs only said he was against DRM for PR reasons and to look good are utter bullshit. Jobs' statement on DRM is the single biggest shot across the bow of DRM that anyone anywhere near this industry has taken, ever. From the CEO of the company with the largest online music store, no less. From a board member of a major motion picture house, no less.

        This isn't just lip service. This is huge, and that's why all the DRM and music industry types have been reacting to it so vocally and aversely since it was made. Apple doesn't need DRM to keep people on iTunes and iPod. People get iPods because they don't utterly suck. Jobs also (likely correctly) feels that the entire online music industry - of which iTunes is a huge part - would be MUCH better off without DRM.

        In fact, if it's true that online sales would explode if you could actually get lossless, no-DRM versions of music and media online, as so many staunch anti-DRM advocates argue, then it's true that Apple's business would significantly grow, as the existing market leader in this area. I know that people want to think that Jobs was just lying for PR's sake and really secretly wants to hold onto DRM as tightly as it can, but that simply doesn't stand up to logical scrutiny, considering the scope and impact of this statement. Further, iPods - which is where Apple makes its money - were already the market leader by far before the iTunes store even existed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jcr (53032)
        He never said he was a victim. He said that Apple implemented DRM because the labels wouldn't let them sell downloads without it, which happens to be true. He also said that Apple has contractural obligations to patch their DRM if it's breached, which is also true.

        If given the choice to ditch DRM or not, you had better believe Apple would choose not to.

        Want to bet?

        They make more money the way it is now.

        Nope. The iPod was a runaway hit before the iTMS, and if the music store went way today the iPod would
    • "[2] Aside from the massive technical hurdles to coalescing DRM with all the disparate formats and stores, is that really the right step to take?"

      Yes! That way I'd only need one tool to remove the DRM from my stuff. As it stands now, I have to use like two or three.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AndyG314 (760442)
      I have to disagree with you here. What the music industry needs (really what any media industry needs) is a consistant platform on which to deleiver their content. When you buy a cd, it works in every cd player, no matter what company made the cd or the cd player. The problem with apple's drm (from the music industry's point of view) is that it only works with apple's software/hardware.
      Apple is preventing widescale addoption of a standard DRM, they are the predominant player in the industry, and withou
      • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:21PM (#18197648)
        The solution isn't standardized DRM. It's no DRM. The music industry wants you to believe the only practical solution is the former. The real solution is the latter, for all the reasons Jobs outlined, not the least of which is that DRM will NEVER stop piracy and ALWAYS be able to be defeated.
        • Absolutely right. Think what happens if Apple opens DRM. Some company will want to implement it. But there's a catch - it OpenSource Player company. So source of FairPlay will leak into the wild. How hard would be to crack FairPlay afterwards? Not at all. What happens if they refuse to release it to that company? Lawsuit plus probably huge fine from EU.

          There's no such option as standard open DRM. It will simply not work. The only way is to totally ditch it. And start using sensible pricing techniques. MPIA/
      • by JWW (79176)
        If a standard drm could be implemented that allowed the files to be played on all standards complient devices it could really allow online music distrobution to take off.

        Yeah, they could use the same DRM they used on the CDs you mentioned earlier. NONE!!!!

        A DRM free product is infinitely easier to build a large market for than a DRM constrained product.
      • That's an interesting argument, but if I was running a corporation selling something in 2 formats, one of which was seeing huge increases in revenue and the other of which was doing so badly that my overall revenue was still down, I'd think that from my point of view the incredibly profitable side of my business wouldn't be the one I saw as "very bad".

        Apple should just close their music store entirely and watch every single record label file for Chapter 11 by the end of the year.
    • by JWW (79176)
      You know, maybe the RIAA actually has a point here, maybe the entire industry should use the same DRM.

      Hey I have an idea, they could call it CSS!! Yeah, that would be a great name for an "open" (heh, in more ways than one) DRM.
    • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sterno (16320) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:54PM (#18198166) Homepage
      The labels are hurting the industry with DRM. Apple is willing to ditch it wholesale (i.e., isn't interested in iTunes/iPod "lock-in").

      Actually Apple is 100% interested in the iTunes/iPod lock in. Jobs is saying, "hey if the music industry does something they'd never do in a million years, so will I!"

      It's great PR to say it and it's unlikely to come to fruition, so why not say it? Jobs and Apple are not nearly that benevolent.
  • by thrillseeker (518224) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @02:59PM (#18197308)
    No matter what the customers say, all the music execs understand is one word ... "blah blah blah blah DRM blah blah"
  • Math... duh...? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nebaz (453974) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:00PM (#18197318)
    From the article:
    CD sales fell 23 percent worldwide between 2000 and 2006.
    Last year saw a 131 percent jump in digital sales
    overall the industry still saw about a 4 percent decline in revenue.

    So CD sales... down... (a lot)
    Digital music sales ... up (a lot)

    Overall down... ( a little)

    Blame Jobs!
    Brilliant!

    What color is the sky in their world?
    • No one knows what color the sky is, a giant pie with "DRM" inscribed on it blocks all from viewing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nsmike (920396)
      What kind of math is that?

      If CD sales dropped from 400,000 units to 200,000 units, I'd call that "a lot."

      If digital sales went up from 100 songs per person to 300 songs per person, I'd call that "a lot."

      However, these numbers aren't anywhere near relative. There's almost not even a grounds for comparison. It's a lot trickier to compare these sales than you would think.

      Not that I'm defending the industry, almost all of their woes at the moment can be attributed to their own actions.
    • What color is the sky in their world?

      Green.
      • What color is the sky in their world?

        Green.


        Fans of "Charlie Jade", I see.
        (http://imdb.com/title/tt0408378/)
        Does anybody know if they plan to make a season 2?
  • Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Apocalypse111 (597674) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:02PM (#18197336) Journal
    So do the music execs *WANT* DRM, or do they *NOT* want it? They can't have it both ways. They should just be happy that people are buying music at all lately, what with the production-grade excrement coming out of most labels lately.
    • I don't think it's nearly that bad way. They want DRM, what they are objecting to is the closed DRM model that Apple has. If the time-to-fix supposedly in the iTunes contracts is the problem, then maybe they should allow it to be extended so that fixes to cracks.

      Anyway, I'll repeat what I've said before, just support labels and bands that aren't in the RIAA. It's their legal right to protect their works and control how it is distributed, if we don't like it, we should support non-RIAA bands.
    • So do the music execs *WANT* DRM, or do they *NOT* want it? They can't have it both ways.

      they don't want it. what they want to do is get rid of downloadable music in general. they would also like us to SHUT THE HELL UP about getting rid of DRM. perhaps if they shift the blame around and wave their hands we will be placated enough to let this digital download nonsense subside and just go back to buying CDs.

      just wait, soon there will be talk about how downloads are not sustainable and we have to get rid

    • by jandrese (485)
      What they want is unfettered control over all you see an hear. Right now they're steamed because Apple took a bit of control away from them and they want it back. Unfortunately iTunes is large enough that Apple can dictate terms to a certain extent and they have to go along with it because they're inherently greedy.
    • by BeerCat (685972)

      So do the music execs *WANT* DRM, or do they *NOT* want it?

      Having (unwittingly) handed their crown jewels (control of the industry) to Apple (Music Exec - "OK, Apple, you can sell downloads, but it must have DRM" Apple - "Done! (Heh, you certainly have been)" ), what they want is their control back.

      So, they *WANT* DRM, but they *DO NOT* want Apple in charge of it (or MS, or... well anyone except the RIAA, really).

      The thing is, once artists start extricating themselves from the major labels' shackles, (so that the artists can get better deals with Apple /

  • Apple not at fault (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Silentknyght (1042778) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:02PM (#18197354)

    Cohen told the audience that if Jobs was really sincere about doing away with DRM, he would soon release movies from Disney--the studio Jobs holds a major stake in--without any software protection. An Apple representative declined to comment on Tuesday on remarks made by the panel.

    As I understand it, Apple is the technological source of this DRM in question, but not the muscle that pushes for its incorporation into the files. If Disney wants DRM on its digital downloadable movies as a provision for Apple to sell them, then it's Disney that is failing to "open up." If Apple refuses to put DRM on their products, then I'd guess they wouldn't have those products to sell.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jimmy King (828214)

      As I understand it, Apple is the technological source of this DRM in question, but not the muscle that pushes for its incorporation into the files. If Disney wants DRM on its digital downloadable movies as a provision for Apple to sell them, then it's Disney that is failing to "open up." If Apple refuses to put DRM on their products, then I'd guess they wouldn't have those products to sell.

      If I could mod this up I would. I can't at the moment, though, so instead I'll confirm that this is a reason at least

  • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:02PM (#18197358)
    iTunes is not the problem, but the insane rules that govern the content that is distributed through it. Recently Apple said that they would drop DRM if the industry allowed. NOW the industry is crying that the DRM that THEY mandated to be inplace are actually hurting sales!?!
    • by Panaflex (13191) * <convivialdingo@noSpaM.yahoo.com> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:24PM (#18197690)
      Ohh, it's much worse than that.

      Now iTunes/Apple is a monopoly - the music companies can only get their product distributed profitably through a single channel online. They're seeing the writing on the wall - and the choice is open up or get squeezed by the monopoly.

      Hell, they can't even sell their OWN music on their on website because... it's not compatible with iPod!!! And even if they could - the marketplace is Apple iTunes, pure and simple. The purported 4 cent per-song "Apple tax" is so low, that they couldn't even compete fairly with their own distributor because the scale of operations would be money-loosing.

      I don't think anybody saw this reaming coming...
  • by bokmann (323771) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:04PM (#18197380) Homepage
    So the customers don't want it, the music execs don't want it, the vendors don't want it, and I don't think he musicians are clamoring for it either... Why do we have DRM again?

    I say someone needs to call the bluff.
    • The music execs want it. From the article:

      The problem is the proprietary implementation of technology

      Per the music industry, the problem isn't with the DRM itself, it is the fact that it is proprietary.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by femto (459605)
        The problem isn't that it is "proprietary". The problem is that they don't own it.
    • by Coryoth (254751) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:20PM (#18197642) Homepage Journal

      So the customers don't want it, the music execs don't want it, the vendors don't want it, and I don't think he musicians are clamoring for it either... Why do we have DRM again?
      Oh the music execs want it. What this is all about is that they've started to realise that, in doing the deal they did with Apple, they are effectively stuck with Apple's DRM. Being the control freaks that they are, this is not an attractive prospect for them, and what they really want is their DRM where they get to define the standard, the restrictions and how it works so that they can dictate DRM to the vendors rather than having the vendors in control. What they want is an "open" DRM under their control that they can force all the different vendors to use, thus unifying on-line music DRM under them.
      • Code is Law (Score:3, Insightful)

        by femto (459605)

        In other words: Code is Law [code-is-law.org]. Whoever controls the code controls what happens, no matter what happens. It's the moderm version of "possession is nine points of the law".

        RMS figured it out in 1883, Lessig figured it out in 2000, Jobs figured it out in 2001 (probably read Lessig), the music industry figured it out two minutes ago.

    • by EasyT (749945) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:24PM (#18197698) Journal
      If you pay attention to what the music execs are actually saying, they're not saying they don't want DRM, they're saying they want Jobs to open Apple's DRM up (make it accessable to other companies that sell DRM music or digital music players). Which they know Apple can't do, as Apple would be subjected to a much greater risk of the DRM being cracked in a way they couldn't quickly fix (which contractually could cost Apple access to their entire music library).

      If the music execs were serious about wanting Apple to open up Apple's DRM, they could renegotiate to reduce Apple's risk. But since there appears to be no actual effort on that front, it sounds more like diversionary finger-pointing by the music labels.

    • those that FUND CONGRESS seem to want it.

      that is all that matters.

      (sigh)
      • Congress doesn't mandate DRM, so no, that doesn't matter.

        It's perfectly legal for me to make music and sell it to whomever I want without any DRM on it.

        Oh, I see. IHBT.
  • by Talonator (594765) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:08PM (#18197448) Homepage
    It seems like there are two dimensions to the 'DRM problem,' and that Apple and the music companies disagree on which of these needs to be changed:

    In Jobs' letter (whenever that was) he called for DRM-free music, because he said an open DRM standard wouldn't work (it would be too easily reverse-engineered, since many entities would have access to the code, or whatever).

    An open DRM standard is exactly what the music companies want, however, and that's the point of this story. The music companies don't want to give up their (ill-gotten) rights over the music they sell but they want to appear like they're doing something for the consumer, so they argue for open DRM and call Jobs insincere. Ahh, it makes me angry.
    • by Panaflex (13191) *
      Agreed - but beyond that the music co's want to dictate DRM so that they can dictate the market prices by having a "level distribution" model. They could care less about the consumer as long as they get their money.

      Apple has an 80-percent market share for online music sales - that means they dictate the price, delivery methods, and the DRM. The fact is that the music co's couldn't even compete (and they've tried) with Apple - because the DRM locks them out of the primary delivery method - the iPod.

      For Mu
  • If they could simply open it up, everybody would love them.

    Everybody but the customer.
  • by boyfaceddog (788041) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:12PM (#18197506) Journal
    Let's see, if I were Jobs and I had a near-monopoly on sales of digital music, would I give it away?

    DRM is a financial fact of life, just like circumventing it is a technical fact of life. The only thing that will kill the DRM-monster is the sword of falling profits, and it looks like that is lost for the moment. No ammount of wishful thinking about open source DRM or Apple giving up its strangle hold will change this story.

    Money. It is ALWAYS about money.
  • by Valdez (125966) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:12PM (#18197514)
    Has anyone wondered whats going to happen to all the DRM-encumbered music you've already bought if they suddenly go DRM-less?

    Are you going to have to buy it all over again? Will they give you new copies of what you purchased? Will all the new DRM-free players also be able to handle any media with any outmoded DRM to allow backwards compatibility of things I've already bought?

    Has anyone thought that perhaps the 180 degree change of opinion from Apple's side might find you paying twice for your "Best of The Rolling Stones" album?

  • by sehlat (180760) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:12PM (#18197516)

    The music executives demanded that every bit of music that comes out be "protected" with ConsumerRightsArentPermitted, and got, at least with Apple iTunes, exactly what they asked for.

    So now they are reaping the consequences of their own shortsighted greed and contempt for their customers and they blame the messenger?

  • by fluch (126140) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:14PM (#18197550)
    What is the porblem?!? I don't get it, the iPods are open for others. They happily support MP3's. Or don't they?! You just need to sell MP3's and the customer can play them. Ah, you do not want to sell MP3's?! Not my porblem, I am happy with it... :-)
  • ...then the industry should revoke, or not renew the license it gave apple, and sign a deal with someone who meets their requirements.

    If they're getting hurt so bad by Apple's structure, it's their responsibility to stop dealing with Apple. End of story.
    • by JWW (79176)
      There's a problem with that. Lots of people (me included) buy all of their music on iTunes. If the RIAA destroys iTunes, well then I guess there's always bittorrent and p2p out there.

      Mark my words, if the RIAA revokes Apple's license to sell music, I will never, ever, buy online music again.

      And if enough iTunes buyers do the same then thats it for the recording industry. End of story.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:23PM (#18197682) Journal
    Music Industry: We want DRM.
    Steve Jobs: You got it. Hey, it only works with iPods as well. Isn't product tying great!
    Music Industry: Can we have more control over our product?
    Steve Jobs: Nope.
    Music Industry: Oh. Uhm... We'll leave
    Steve Jobs: No you won't.
    Music Industry: Oh. Ummm can you open up Fairplay. This will mean there's some competition and we can afford to ditch you.
    Steve Jobs:: Nope. Why would I ever do that?
    Music Industry: We'll make you look like the bad guy.
    Steve Jobs: You can try. I made downloadable music viable, produce the gadget all the cool kids want and I don't sue children and old ladies. Not only that, but I can plausibly blame all your troubles on you.
    • Nice. (Score:3, Insightful)

      It was modded up three points, in the time it took me to comment. Thats a fairly accurate portrayal of whats actually going on. Don't believe the crap around here that "open drm" isn't possible. Thats exactly what MS has done, and exactly what the labels want out of apple.

      It *is* possible, but Apple is either trying to maintain it supremacy, or is actually trying to wrest control of music distribution away from the labels. The latter seems a bit too idealistic for me, but its a consequence of them followin
      • Re:Nice. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by EasyT (749945) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @04:24PM (#18198642) Journal
        Don't believe the crap around here that "open drm" isn't possible. Thats exactly what MS has done, and exactly what the labels want out of apple.

        Only that's not what MS has done. You'll note that MicroSoft didn't use their own "open" PlaysForSure DRM once they had their own Zune music player and music store. Instead they set up their own proprietary DRM that was incompatible with PlaysForSure.

        Chances are they ended up in a contract that would hold them responsible if DRMed music sold for the Zune got cracked and pirated. If their contract is anything like Apple's, they could lose access to their entire music library if they can't plug the hole fast. And they can't ensure they can do that if other companies are involved with the maintenance of the same DRM.

        MS only has only proven Apple's point. Anyone with a real stake in this game can't risk using an open DRM. (MS can license PlaysForSure to other companies because MS has no significant risk if PlaysForSure gets cracked.)

  • Strategic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by creysoft (856713) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:27PM (#18197732)
    Apple, in it's traditionally clever way, has turned the tables on the music industry. The music industry, in initial negotiations, simply stated that they wanted "DRM." Apple designed and built a form of DRM that (A) minimally inconveniences their customers, (B) complies with the letter of the agreement, and most importantly, (C) uses the DRM to lock iTunes to its player, thereby profiting from the arrangement and effectively killing any other competitors. (Even MS can't break into the market.) As Apple has the only digital music store anybody would want to use, they use their considerable muscle to bully the music industry into doing what they want.

    This is NOT what the music industry wanted. When they say "DRM," they mean DRM that protects *them,* not resellers. So now they're crying for Apple to "open" their DRM. They still want DRM, just DRM that doesn't give Apple the above benefits, the goal being to effectively give their competitors a chance to flourish. If this happens, the music industry will regain the upper hand in negotiations, and start forcing Apple to do its bidding. This will, of course, result in higher prices and poorer service.

    The music industry is betting the public won't understand the difference between "opening" DRM, and doing away with it. The former helps nobody but the music industry. If they succeed in convincing consumers that the industry is opposed to DRM, and mean old Apple is forcing it on them, they'll be able to turn public opinion against Apple and get their demands met. This has nothing to do with helping the consumer, and everything to do with the music industry trying to wrestle its way out of Apple's iron grip on its throat.

    We'll see how this turns out.
  • Wow (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by ThousandStars (556222)
    Seldom have I seen so disingenuous statements. If the music industry wants to end Apple's alleged "stranglehold," they can do it tomorrow by licensing their catalogs without DRM. The industry brought Apple's domination through its initial demand that DRM be mandatory, and now they're unhappy because they succeeded in that endeavor.

    Watching the music industry squirm is like watching FOX news -- war is peace, freedom is slavery.

  • by cyber-dragon.net (899244) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:32PM (#18197812)
    Look at the numbers in the article... online sales more than double but overall is down 4%. What should this be telling them? People WILL purchase music online, they are willing to pay and not pirate.

    What else will it tell the **AA? It says people are fed up with thier practices and are starting to vote with their wallet. Revenue goes down they cannot possibly be at fault so it must be Steve Jobs. He did it! We did not make any bad decitions we are doing what our customers want and protecting our artists.

    Well... the reality is Jobs is selling the music because he is comming closer than anyone to what customers ACTUALLY want. Online sales more than doubled and who caused that? Also of note is that they never said CD sales are down... only that revenue is down. Expenses such as suing so many people might drain revenue no?
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:33PM (#18197826)
    The music industries realize that Apple's grip over the DRM distribution used for mose music is also the key to its elimination.

    If Apple holds control over popular use of DRM, then it is inevitable music companies will have to offer DRM free music - because it's the only way to get the pricing control they really want. They don't want to be without DRM, which is why the demand Jobs give it up... it's like they built a giant castle, and just as it was done Jobs snuck in and raised the drawbridge. Now he's threatening to set a match to the powderkegs inside and destroy the whole castle. They don't want the general population to be able to enjoy the castle, they want it back for themselves.
  • Then you need just one hack, and you can have all your music be DRM-free everywhere! No more multiple-different-hacks for different DRM's.
  • by canfirman (697952) <pdavi25.yahoo@ca> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:41PM (#18197986)
    "C-Net says last year saw a 131 percent jump in digital sales, but overall the industry still saw about a 4 percent decline in revenue. Some executives at this week's Digital Music Forum East conference lashed out at Jobs, blaming Apple and its CEO for their troubles.

    Man, I laughed my ass off when I read this one. So, there's a 4 percent decline in overall revenue. The only reason they could find is Steve Jobs? Of course, it wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that their products suck, would it? No, they would never look at themselves and wonder why sales are down. I guess their latest "pop tarts" aren't bringing in the money they were a long time ago. Oh, and I'm sure the lawsuits aren't affecting the revenue line. Nah - it's got to be Steve Jobs, isn't it?

    Please. How lame can you get?

  • by starglider29a (719559) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:48PM (#18198088)
    How many songs are there that are on multiple "albums"? How often do record companies put out a "Greatest Hits" compilation and add a new song just to get the fans of that band to "need" to buy it?

    Now, they don't need to. The iTuner gets the new "<fiction>Van HalenRunning With The Devil f. Alanis Morrisette on vocals</fiction>" for a buck, instead of shelling out $17.99 for that and 17 reruns. That's a 94.4% drop in revenue, and DRM has nothing to do with it.
  • If they could simply open it up, everybody would love them.

    {Tucker} BowChickaBowWOW! {/Tucker}
  • My impression... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Darth Daver (193621) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @04:54PM (#18198996)
    is that the music execs' comments are anything but sincere. So they are calling for the elimination of DRM? The RIAA and MPAA are the litigious SOBs who insisted upon it! They are okay with just opening it up without restriction and fundamentally giving the content away, huh? Riiiiiight.
  • Exclusive? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 955301 (209856) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @05:03PM (#18199112) Journal
    So what gives? Did the execs sign an exclusive contract with Apple? How is it they have a strangle hold when the RIAA has the copyrights to the content? What stops them from using Microsofts store (hehehehe)?

    They have access to multiple distribution channels and when one becomes successful enough to obtain brand identity they cry foul!

    Some shit, different episode. These guys aren't playing with a full deck. Or at least they think we aren't.
  • by EXTomar (78739) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @05:35PM (#18199476)
    The music industry wanted a system that is draconian in control, that "permanently" tied music to specific systems, that can't transfer control easily. Congrats, they got it! Oh but wait, the music industry really didn't want it to be draconian against them. Now they are claiming that they can't control it because it is draconian, permanently ties music to systems, and they can't get control. It seems to me that it isn't Apple/Steve Job's fault at all. The industry got exactly what they begged for.

    Sounds like they made their bed, now they got to sleep in it. Pleasant dreams.

"It is easier to fight for principles than to live up to them." -- Alfred Adler

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