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Monday, February 12, 2007

Jobs' DRM Tune Off-Key

Not surprisingly the music industry has not given a warm reception to Steve Jobs' call for an end to digital rights management. Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., rightly told the Washington Post that Jobs was misleading in his argument.

Bronfman attacked the assertion that anti-piracy technology was the reason that iTunes music will not play on anything but an iPod. "The issue is obscured by asserting that DRM and interoperability is the same thing. They are not. To suggest that they cannot co-exist is simply incorrect."

As I said, Jobs is reacting to Europe's call for Apple to license iTunes to other companies by calling for an end to DRM, which is a separate issue.

New media expert Brad King also points out that you can agree that ending DRM is a good thing without believing Jobs' rhetoric.

With his "Thoughts on Music" post, Jobs is deftly trying to switch the attention from his monopoly to the music industry's oligopoly.

King says Jobs could help put an end to DRM and grow his company by opening up iTunes.

When it comes to DRM, though, Jobs has the rare opportunity to inject actual change in the digital-media landscape while also promoting the financial well-being of his company, even if that means opening up the Apple architecture to allow competitors to play on the same landscape.

If Apple allowed iTunes tracks to be legally uploaded to car, portable and home stereo equipment from other manufacturers, the company would likely increase revenue and decrease piracy because it would be so easy to legitimately move music from place to place. But that would break Apple's "we control you" strategy, so it's not likely to happen.

By John Gartner at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

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