Thanks to those who thought it worth their time to disagree with me
about my characterization of Steve Jobs.
To clarify, here are the words of The Man himself about why he won't license FairPlay DRM to other music device makers: The second alternative is for Apple to license its FairPlay DRM technology to current and future competitors with the goal of achieving interoperability between different company’s players and music stores. On the surface, this seems like a good idea since it might offer customers increased choice now and in the future. And Apple might benefit by charging a small licensing fee for its FairPlay DRM. However, when we look a bit deeper, problems begin to emerge. The most serious problem is that licensing a DRM involves disclosing some of its secrets to many people in many companies, and history tells us that inevitably these secrets will leak.
So DRM is so unstable that if they share any of the code with consumer electronics' companies, it would be compromised. That is just posturing as an excuse not to license the software. Microsoft and other companies license their to hardware companies, but Apple is above all that. I thought the geniuses in Cupertino could figure out anything?
I agree with Jobs that DRM is flawed, and that it is hypocritical for the music industry not to protect digital files on a CD while requiring online music sellers to do so. But my point is that he's calling for an end to DRM assuming that it won't happen and out of interest not to the consumers but to Apple. It is the right argument for the wrong reason.
Does anyone really think that if Europe didn't threaten
to close down the iTunes stores that Mr. Jobs would have written his treatise on digital music and DRM? No way. Also, my peers at Wired News
point out that Jobs is mum on video copy protection, again an inconsistent stance.
Since it is unlikely that DRM will go away, Apple should license FairPlay to car stereo and portable MP3 players to appease Europe, give consumers increased flexibility, and put a few more bucks in Apple's coffer. If FairPlay's DRM becomes compromised, it will be because an end user reverse engineered the code, not because some hardware company decided to sell the secrets.