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Jobs: Thoughts on Music

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Okay, I am sure by now many of you, like me, have just about gotten the links pouring in through your RSS feeds. How many of you read it beginning to end?

 

The further you read, the better it gets. I really am dumbfounded but it seems like Steve Jobs is trying to cause a stir in his own back yard. In essence, and in quote, the piece reads like this:

 

Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly... 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.

 

Now there is a lot to read into this, even I can and I'm not psychologist, but the sentiment is there for all to see. What Steve Jobs is saying in no subtle way here is that DRM isn't working, it's hurting everyone; furthermore DRM licensing won't work and won't be done; in the end Apple wants to abolish DRM and they want our help.

 

I don't think there is a way of reading that wrong and now I don't think I will sleep tonight. This is huge in that it isn't a secretly leaked internal e-mail, it's a public statement by the head of the largest online distributor in the world. Can this be real? Was Apple Hot News "hacked"? I certainly hope not.

 

I don't have much to add here, I think Steve covered it all. What does everyone think about this one?

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yea thats an interesting read, and pretty exciting if apple can actually swing the big four music companies to allow non drm online sales. apple obviously has quite bit of leverage on the online music industry, but as far as the music industry as a whole, i dont think they can make it budge. like the article said, the majority of music being sold is cd's.

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True, but as the article also says, what else is DRM'd? CDs certainly aren't so why the hell are online store downloads?

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First of: I LOVE it! This is the reason we call Steve Jobs His Steveness.

 

Will this change anything? Not from the music industry. The big guys at Universal won't read this and go "Good point, let's get rid of DRM" But it what it can change is how "normal" people look at DRM. I think we're on the very edge of a giant revolution from consumers. And by that I mean your dad, not your geek friend. Normal consumers will see why DRM sucks and why they should care. I also think we can thank Microsoft for that in a way. Microsofts ridiculous DRM on the Zune is one of the things that will help this along. Enough public outcry is the only thing that can change and/or remove DRM.

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First of: I LOVE it! This is the reason we call Steve Jobs His Steveness.

 

Will this change anything? Not from the music industry. The big guys at Universal won't read this and go "Good point, let's get rid of DRM" But it what it can change is how "normal" people look at DRM. I think we're on the very edge of a giant revolution from consumers. And by that I mean your dad, not your geek friend. Normal consumers will see why DRM sucks and why they should care. I also think we can thank Microsoft for that in a way. Microsofts ridiculous DRM on the Zune is one of the things that will help this along. Enough public outcry is the only thing that can change and/or remove DRM.

 

Actually, I heard a news report on National Public Radio here in the states not too long ago. It described how record companies were considering agreements with other music retailers that would not require DRM to be applied. The impression I got was that record industry execs are not happy with the dominance of iTunes and the lack of bargaining power they have as a result. As a result, they were looking at deals with others (I forgot if it was Amazon, Walmart, or somewhere else) without requiring DRM in order to make them more competitive.

 

I'll have to see if I can find a link to the story and listen to it again. I'll post it here if I can find it.

 

- Tim

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Frankly I don't think it matters where it's from. One deal will lead to another, enevitably it has to. Like Daniel said, it's about your dad, not SonyBMG. It's the principle that if every American who voted against Bush back in the day got off their ass at his presidency announcement and stood shouting outside the whitehouse there would be no "President Bush". Same theory applies here and this could just be the kick-off.

 

Game on!

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If Steve cared so much about this why doesn't he license FairPlay, why is he so staunchly against it? this whole thing seems like a PR move....

Jobs knows the record companies won't release their music without DRM. So if he says this it makes him look good, but doesn't actually change anything.

 

the fact is Steve like DRM because it locks you into his player.

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I think you need to read the piece, that's the whole point of it. I agree that licensing won't work, and DRM doesn't really lock anyone into a device; such insinuations are ridiculous.

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DRM is just an illusion of security, we know that, and the essay shows that Steve know that. The record industry knows it, they just dont want to admit it.

Damn straight.

 

BJ

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I think you need to read the piece, that's the whole point of it. I agree that licensing won't work, and DRM doesn't really lock anyone into a device; such insinuations are ridiculous.

 

I don't see why licensing wouldn't work.... and I think DRM will completely lock you into a particular player...

 

If I have $200 worth of music purchased from iTunes, I won't be so quick to switch to the Zune because I'll be flushing all that money down the toilet. Burning to audio CD and re-ripping into the computer is not a great option either.

 

Steve Jobs doesn't want his music to work with other players because Apple doesn't make much money off the music, they make it off the iPod. Steve loves the DRM, it would still be on the music if the record companies didn't require it.

 

Apple is a corporation out to make profit, licensing FairPlay does not help that. Apple loves it's monopoly on downloadable music.

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I don't see why licensing wouldn't work.... and I think DRM will completely lock you into a particular player...

Since you obvoiusly just don't want to fucking read the essay I'll quote the section important to your statement:

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. The Internet has made such leaks far more damaging, since a single leak can be spread worldwide in less than a minute. Such leaks can rapidly result in software programs available as free downloads on the Internet which will disable the DRM protection so that formerly protected songs can be played on unauthorized players.

 

An equally serious problem is how to quickly repair the damage caused by such a leak. A successful repair will likely involve enhancing the music store software, the music jukebox software, and the software in the players with new secrets, then transferring this updated software into the tens (or hundreds) of millions of Macs, Windows PCs and players already in use. This must all be done quickly and in a very coordinated way. Such an undertaking is very difficult when just one company controls all of the pieces. It is near impossible if multiple companies control separate pieces of the puzzle, and all of them must quickly act in concert to repair the damage from a leak.

 

Apple has concluded that if it licenses FairPlay to others, it can no longer guarantee to protect the music it licenses from the big four music companies. Perhaps this same conclusion contributed to Microsoft’s recent decision to switch their emphasis from an “open” model of licensing their DRM to others to a “closed” model of offering a proprietary music store, proprietary jukebox software and proprietary players.

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Since you obvoiusly just don't want to fucking read the essay I'll quote the section important to your statement:

And you are one of the mods on this forum, tut tut you are turning this into a Windows forum! we are better than this and so are YOU!

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Just a thought, Remove all DRM and enter 1 standard for all BINGO!! this is the only option in my opinion as the music fat cats will never agree to Mr J's PR stunt. Still this keeps the Apple light burning in what I can only describe as a boring first 1/4 year.....yawn yawn ZZzzzzz

Edited by zionlion

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You are kidding me right? Did you read the story at all? Open DRM is a complete oxymoron. It's impossible. It won't work. It would be the armageddon of the music industry. It's not even an option. A complete lack of DRM however would be stepping back in line with customer expectation, the previous and otherwise current practices of the industry and make more money for everyone involved (viz. won't waste money for everyone involved).

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Yes I agree with you 100% but feel I have not made myself clear, DRM should be 1 standard used by all. I would love to see an end to DRM however this will never happen full stop. Steves letter was aimed at the EU, Why? you dont have to be Darwin to figure it.

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Since you obvoiusly just don't want to fucking read the essay I'll quote the section important to your statement:

 

 

First off, I don't think that language was required... and I read the essay, I just didn't agree with it.

 

MS kept Plays for Sure from being cracked for a long long time... longer than FairPlay. There's no reason a similar implementation couldn't have been done.

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This is definetly a step in the right direction for the online music industry, i'm sure this will surely kick off alot of other companies in the battle against drm.

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I don't see why licensing wouldn't work.... and I think DRM will completely lock you into a particular player...

 

I believe the main reason for not licensing FairPlay was something about part of Apple's agreement w/ the record companies that if the DRM is broken, Apple can fix it within a matter of weeks. This would be impossible if everyone's player had to be compatible with FairPlay.

 

Here's the relevant paragraph:

 

An equally serious problem is how to quickly repair the damage caused by such a leak. A successful repair will likely involve enhancing the music store software, the music jukebox software, and the software in the players with new secrets, then transferring this updated software into the tens (or hundreds) of millions of Macs, Windows PCs and players already in use. This must all be done quickly and in a very coordinated way. Such an undertaking is very difficult when just one company controls all of the pieces. It is near impossible if multiple companies control separate pieces of the puzzle, and all of them must quickly act in concert to repair the damage from a leak.

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You are kidding me right? Did you read the story at all? Open DRM is a complete oxymoron. It's impossible. It won't work. It would be the armageddon of the music industry. It's not even an option. A complete lack of DRM however would be stepping back in line with customer expectation, the previous and otherwise current practices of the industry and make more money for everyone involved (viz. won't waste money for everyone involved).

 

I'm not an expert on open DRM, but I suspect that it can work if done the right way. From what I know about computer security, my understanding is that open security standards are generally accepted as the most secure. Openness allows the expert community to see what is being done, make recommendations on how to improve, and implement those recommendation.

 

In Steve's letter he glosses over this point. He states that licensing the technology would give hackers access to the "secrets", and that Apple would have to change those secrets as exploits are discovered. I presume that he is talking about secret keys typically associated with either symmetric or asymmetric encryption algorithms used on modern PKI infrastructures. If so, the technology exists to allow open standards without compromising security.

 

The specifics of how to make this work may be logistically difficult to manage. For example, one approach used in high-security environments is to require the consumer to have a hardware key token such as those produced by RSA. These tokens can be things that display a pin number that changes every few seconds, or they can be USB devices that you need to plug in to your computer, etc. Strong encryption keys can also be built into hardware on machines, but that is costly.

 

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with Steve's conclusions: Consumers would be better off if DRM didn't exist, and the music industry would probably not be hurt too badly by the lack of DRM. However, I think that it is misleading for Steve to say that licensing can't work without sacraficing the security demanded by the music industry. I also suspect that open DRM standards are not an oxymoron, nor are they technically that difficult. These are (more-or-less) solved problems in other industries, and open standards have been a big part of the solution.

 

- Tim

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