Steve Jobs on DRM

Steve Jobs has written an open letter to the music industry, positing that the best thing for the labels, consumers and music player manufacturers is to abolish DRM altogether:

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

I’ve posted on DRM here at acidlabs before (here, here and here), so my anti-DRM position is well known. In effect, my position is that DRM is futile rather than evil. It doesn’t ultimately work. Music piracy is endemic, which is taking dollars out of the pockets of musicians who richly deserve every dollar they can earn from the fruits of their labors.

This, however is major news and breaks new ground. I only hope that the heavyweight that is His Steveness can convince the labels to change their model. The letter is being widely reported in the blogosphere (TechCrunch, Techmeme), and has even made the mainstream media (ABC News, The Australian).

One Reply to “Steve Jobs on DRM”

  1. I’ve been wondering about that… Jobs still sells films, ebooks, applications and operating systems with encryption and user-authentication.

    Is it just music which is a special case, or do you think that he is saying that encryption is impractical in all circumstances?

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