Steve Jobs: DRM Is Bad for Consumers, Innovators, *and* Artists

Today, Apple’s Steve Jobs publicly threw down this gauntlet: “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… Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.”

Why should the labels listen?

* DRM is bad for consumers: “[A] world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats … is clearly the best alternative for consumers.”

* DRM is bad for innovation: “If [DRM] requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players.”

* DRM is bad for artists: “So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free [as audio CDs], what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none…. [More innovation in stores and players spurred by DRM-free downloads] can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.”

    Jobs isn’t the only music service provider to invite an end to music download DRM — Yahoo!’s Dave Goldberg has long urged the labels to remove the restrictions, and Real’s Rob Glaser said last month that “DRM-free purchases is an idea in ascendance and whose time has come.”

    We agree wholeheartedly with Jobs, since EFF has been making exactly the same points for several years now. As a first step in putting his music store where his mouth is, we urge him to take immediate steps to remove the DRM on the independent label content in the iTunes Store. Why wait for the major record labels? Many independent labels and artists already recognize that DRM is a dumb idea for digital music, as demonstrated by the availability of their music on eMusic. Apple should let them make that music available without DRM in the iTunes Store now.

    There are also bigger lessons here for policymakers. The harm done by DRM could be reduced by reforming the DMCA to allow the evasion of DRM for lawful purposes. Moreover, Jobs’ remarks are another reason for policymakers to reject proposed government DRM mandates, which would only serve to further harm innovation, consumers, and artists. Clearly what’s needed in the digital music world is less, not more, DRM.

    Make your voice heard in Congress now by opposing mandatory digital and satellite radio restrictions.

    (Cross-posted from DeepLinks)

4 Responses to “Steve Jobs: DRM Is Bad for Consumers, Innovators, *and* Artists”

  1. Evan M
    February 7th, 2007 | 12:52 am

    First of three posts from “DVD Jon” calling BS:

    Just ’cause Steve’s saying what you want to hear doesn’t mean he’s on your side.

  2. February 8th, 2007 | 12:21 am

    EFF has been making the same exact points for several years now… I disagree with that!

  3. February 16th, 2007 | 1:21 pm

    […] I’m with the glass half full philosophy, if the can get rid of the DRM user experience nighmares and think about “mobile music sharing” as a way to sell more (using new peer to peer revenue models of LEGITIMATE distibution) rather just perceiving all music sharing is privacy. Users share music with likeminded friends (and even strangers), that’s now a universal truth. […]

  4. February 28th, 2007 | 4:49 pm

    […] The reality is that suing individuals does not fix the problem. There are an abundance of anonymous ways to transfer music across the Internet. Consider Filetopia, an old but slick software package that offers anonymous file transfer and servers that are overseas outside of US jurisdiction. If the RIAA is serious about curbing the p2p file transfer scene (which I am doubtful is even possible) they need to find ways to encourage people to buy music ligitimately rather than trying to discourage them through lawsuits. […]