Apple Suggest Dropping Copy Protection On Music Downloads
Big 4 record companies need to agree but EMI are apparently thinking about it 09/02/07
In an open letter titled â€˜Thoughts On Musicâ€™ posted on the Apple website, CEO Steve Jobs has said that Apple is willing to drop the DRM (Digital Rights Management) system that protects music against theft if the â€˜big 4â€™ record companies - Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI â€“ who insist that DRM is used, would agree to it.
Apple want to open the system up so that music purchased from iTunes can be played on digital devices purchased from other companies, and protected music purchased from other online music stores can play on iPods. Their rationale is that a DRM system has to be constantly upgraded to keep ahead of the game and is costly to implement while it will never get rid of piracy as the majority of music is released with no DRM protection on CD and can thus be easily ripped and put online for others to steal.
Hereâ€™s part of what Steve Jobs had to say, â€œImagine 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.
Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs havenâ€™t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. Thatâ€™s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.
In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.
So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. If anything, the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.â€�
To see Jobsâ€™ full â€˜Thoughts On Musicâ€™ missive go to the website below:
As a postscript the New York Times have run a story stating that EMI has been considering a plan to offer a â€˜broad swathâ€™ of its recordings for sale online without anti-copying software.