Steve Jobs on Dumping DRM

Yes, yet another blogger weighs in on Steve Job’s Thoughts on Music, published online yesterday. In a word, brilliant.

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…

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 haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.

No, I’m not claiming brilliance for the familiar and stunningly obvious point that DRM hurts consumers without stopping pirates. I’m claiming it for the spin. Jobs is the good guy, on the side of the consumer and of openness, and DRM is the big four’s fault.

Apple can afford to take this stance given iPod’s dominance and profit margins. DRM gets in the way of acquiring music, and hence restricts demand for players. I’m not sure that Jobs is a good guy (nor am I sure that he’s a bad guy), but I am sure that his coming out against DRM is a good thing.

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