Ever wonder what the CEO of one of the world’s leading music retailers thinks of Digital Rights Management? Today Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. told us in a message titled “Thoughts on Music” which I hope we will some day look back on as the beginning of the end for DRM.
In the post Jobs clearly presents the current situation (each vendor has their own library of music, protected by their own DRM which will only work on their own software and devices) and offers up three possible futures, the most interesting of which is the third:
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.
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.
If you are interested in DRM or would like to learn more about it and why it’s such a hot topic right now, I highly recommend reading Jobs’ entire post. Remember, Apple is currently ahead in this field and if anything has the most to loose if they lost their brand lock-in.