Feb 9, 2007
Steve Jobs hates DRM too
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, may have one of the most used DRM (Digital Rights Management) methods in the music industry, but he insists that he is against it. DRM is a little bit of software that is part of the music track, which determines whether the music track will play - on which player device, on which date, how many times etc. Due to these restrictions, frustrated users also call this (perhaps more accurately) Digital Restrictions Management.
Apple has been getting the flak for supporting this concept, by selling DRM-music on its iTunes online store. Various consumer groups in many European nations have started court proceedings to have DRM removed or else stop iTunes from operating there. Steve Jobs hates to be the bad guy, after all he's supposed to be customer friendly and cool. So he's written an essay, Thoughts on music, clarifying his stand, basically stating that it's not Apple's fault and it's the record companies that deserve the blame (some of which are, incidentally, European).
It's a case of the middleman griping at being the middleman. Between the music artists and their listening consumers lie a number of middlemen including agents, marketing firms, accountants, music video producers, record companies, distributors, retailers etc., each taking their cut of the profits. Now, Information Technology, by its nature always eliminates middlemen and middle-processes. So it should be no surprise that they are creating obstacles in the distribution of music such as DRM.
There have been many reactions to Steve's essay. John C Dvorak makes an important point that music is also a social medium. When people come together and share it, it's significance grows. By creating obstacles in the way of sharing, the music companies are running down their own sales.
I wonder how a Mozart or Madonna would have fared in a skewed market like this.