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Steve Jobs: Apple would embrace DRM-free music 'in a heartbeat'

post #1 of 176
Thread Starter 
Just saw this article on Apple.com

http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/

I completely agree - I dont like DRM but until the music industry removes its head from its posterior, its not an option Apple really has a say in.

I can imagine the bigwigs at the big 4 are frothing at the mouth with this
post #2 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcUK View Post

Just saw this article on Apple.com

http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/

I completely agree - I dont like DRM but until the music industry removes its head from its posterior, its not an option Apple really has a say in.

I can imagine the bigwigs at the big 4 are frothing at the mouth with this

I doubt it. Its just Apple/Steve telling the Europeans to stop whining about DRM if they are unwilling to pressure their own companies to discard DRM which they are not willing to do. So its simple America bashing again.

Vinea
post #3 of 176
Wow, it's like Steve Jobs started a blog.
post #4 of 176
I've got to say, after reading it, it's bullshit. He claims that Apple would instantly and wholeheartedly embrace DRM-free music if the music companies would allow it. But of course Apple loves the system currently in place. For every iTunes-store music/video that you purchase, it becomes that much harder for you to switch to a different player. With iPods, and now AppleTV and even the iPhone, they can sell a lot of hardware, that only they can sell, that encourages you to buy from the iTunes store, which makes it that much harder for you to switch. That advantage would go away if iTunes content was sold DRM-free.
post #5 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

I've got to say, after reading it, it's bullshit. He claims that Apple would instantly and wholeheartedly embrace DRM-free music if the music companies would allow it. But of course Apple loves the system currently in place. For every iTunes-store music/video that you purchase, it becomes that much harder for you to switch to a different player. With iPods, and now AppleTV and even the iPhone, they can sell a lot of hardware, that only they can sell, that encourages you to buy from the iTunes store, which makes it that much harder for you to switch. That advantage would go away if iTunes content was sold DRM-free.

Call bullshit all you want, but you have to agree that the entire iPod/iTunes ecosystem is mixed, in that it currently thrives on a little DRM and a lot of unprotected content. Steve says that himself. I have a feeling that he's confident enough in the design of Apple's players and store to expect users to still reach for it even when they don't HAVE to.

You can buy cheaper music players today than the iPod. You can buy cheaper computers than Macs. But why don't we? Because we like what we get for what we pay.

Emusic and such offer cheaper music than the iTunes store. yet I still shop at the iTunes store. Why? It's simple, it's fast, and it's well integrated into the rest of my digital life. None of that would change if iTunes store content went unprotected.
post #6 of 176
Can't wait for his torrent of the week column.
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post #7 of 176
Cool. I appreciate that apple has come out and officially stated that they would prefer to sell DRM-free music. (At least that is how I interpret the press release.)

It isn't too unusual of an opinion in the general public. But, as the company selling the most DRM'd content on the net, it is a big deal for apple to officially take such a position.

Down with DRM serfdom!
post #8 of 176
Right now the only beef I have about DRM-protected iTunes content is that I can't easily play it on any kind of music-playing cell phone AND my iPods. I'm looking to buy a new cell phone in the next several months and am dreading the task of burning and ripping my iTunes content.

(Aside: I'm also dreading converting all of my Apple Lossless files to something a cell phone can play, but that's another matter.)
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post #9 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmoNut View Post

Right now the only beef I have about DRM-protected iTunes content is that I can't easily play it on any kind of music-playing cell phone AND my iPods. I'm looking to buy a new cell phone in the next several months and am dreading the task of burning and ripping my iTunes content.

(Aside: I'm also dreading converting all of my Apple Lossless files to something a cell phone can play, but that's another matter.)

Of course, Apple will be more than happy to sell you an iPhone.

heh.
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post #10 of 176
Was it just me or did Steve sound so much saner and less megalomaniacal than he does in Keynotes - and much less of a jerk than he does in interviews?

If he keeps this up he can publish a book, "Meditations."

Maybe it could be carried around everywhere, as a sign of brand loyalty: "The Little White Book."
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post #11 of 176
I'm not sure how many of you read through the entire letter, but it is very clear and informative. Its perfectly understandable why things are the way they are.

Steve lays out perfect reasons why Apple has iTunes closed. Apple by contract is obligated to close any breaches in FairPlay within a limited amount of time. Right now they only have to patch iTunes and their own iPods. But if they opened FairPlay Apple would have to send patches to everyone who license FairPlay and by contract Apple would only have a limited amount of time for everyone to distribute those patches. Apple cannot guarantee Creative, Sony, Samsung or whoever will successfully distribute the patches by a certain amount of time.

Quote:
I've got to say, after reading it, it's bullshit. He claims that Apple would instantly and wholeheartedly embrace DRM-free music if the music companies would allow it. But of course Apple loves the system currently in place.

What would it benefit Apple to put out a letter saying this if they were only going to renege? I'm sure Jobs doesn't believe that the music industry will do away with DRM.

The iPod so thoroughly dominates right now that I'm sure he knows it doesn't need iTunes to continue. He has put the music industry in a awkward position because they have also claimed they don't want Apple to dominate music downloads. Steve says the way you take away our dominance is to allow us to sell non-DRM music. That is a perfect rebuttal.

Think about it though no DRM is ultimately what most people would prefer over Apple licensing FairPlay. It is a great way to move the heat from Apple and onto the music industry.
post #12 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

I've got to say, after reading it, it's bullshit. He claims that Apple would instantly and wholeheartedly embrace DRM-free music if the music companies would allow it. But of course Apple loves the system currently in place. For every iTunes-store music/video that you purchase, it becomes that much harder for you to switch to a different player. With iPods, and now AppleTV and even the iPhone, they can sell a lot of hardware, that only they can sell, that encourages you to buy from the iTunes store, which makes it that much harder for you to switch. That advantage would go away if iTunes content was sold DRM-free.

I wouldn't be so quick on calling bullshit. This isn't the first time that we have heard that the average iPod user doesn't buy from iTunes. Just last December some pundit was basing iPod/iTunes demise FUD on what he claimed as only 18 or so iTunes purchases per iPod owner. (Jobs stated only 22 ITunes purchases per iPod.) With such small purchase numbers it is clear that the iPod is not dependent on iTunes purchases. That music is coming from somewhere, and that somewhere is DRM free CDs and will not change without killing the CD market. The lock-in argument doesn't stand up if most of the music comes from elsewhere.

I know that you and nearly everyone act like the AppleTV will be locked into ITunes provided media. I don't accept that, the AppleTV will play anything that Front Row will play. And with DVD ripping the AppleTV will be where the iPod is today.
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post #13 of 176
Quote:
I've got to say, after reading it, it's bullshit. He claims that Apple would instantly and wholeheartedly embrace DRM-free music if the music companies would allow it. But of course Apple loves the system currently in place. For every iTunes-store music/video that you purchase, it becomes that much harder for you to switch to a different player. With iPods, and now AppleTV and even the iPhone, they can sell a lot of hardware, that only they can sell, that encourages you to buy from the iTunes store, which makes it that much harder for you to switch. That advantage would go away if iTunes content was sold DRM-free.

The statistics he quoted (while he did twist them, by falsely assuming the average, to fit his interpretation, by ignoring the illegal music segment) clearly show that the huuuuge majority of people playing music on iPods are not using music bought from the iTunes Store. If you assume the more accurate (I think) interpretation of the data that the market is split into people who just use legal music and people who just use illegal and/or CD purchased music you can see that only around 2 million (2billion/1000 songs per iPod) of the ipods sold or 2.2% of iPods sold are to people who use the iTunes store to fill them. I, for example, am one of the others who does not own a single track from the iTunes store. So you're argument is pretty weak, that Apple should be fighting for DRM to lock in 2.2% of their customers. They would probably turn off more than that amount if it were revealed that they were supporting DRM.
post #14 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by aresee View Post

I wouldn't be so quick on calling bullshit. This isn't the first time that we have heard that the average iPod user doesn't buy from iTunes. Just last December some pundit was basing iPod/iTunes demise FUD on what he claimed as only 18 or so iTunes purchases per iPod owner. (Jobs stated only 22 ITunes purchases per iPod.) With such small purchase numbers it is clear that the iPod is not dependent on iTunes purchases. That music is coming from somewhere, and that somewhere is DRM free CDs and will not change without killing the CD market. The lock-in argument doesn't stand up if most of the music comes from elsewhere.

I know that you and nearly everyone act like the AppleTV will be locked into ITunes provided media. I don't accept that, the AppleTV will play anything that Front Row will play. And with DVD ripping the AppleTV will be where the iPod is today.

I think this makes it obvious that the music industry doesn't want to kill those CD sales. Their paradox, however is that at the same time they are supporting piracy....
post #15 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

I've got to say, after reading it, it's bullshit. He claims that Apple would instantly and wholeheartedly embrace DRM-free music if the music companies would allow it. But of course Apple loves the system currently in place. For every iTunes-store music/video that you purchase, it becomes that much harder for you to switch to a different player. With iPods, and now AppleTV and even the iPhone, they can sell a lot of hardware, that only they can sell, that encourages you to buy from the iTunes store, which makes it that much harder for you to switch. That advantage would go away if iTunes content was sold DRM-free.

Perhaps. But your positing that the DRM lock-in is the only advantage, discounting industrial design, features, ease-of-use, the iTunes store, and media selection. If iTMS were to sell AAC files unencumbered, these traits still would merit using iTMS. I think that the majority who use iTMS do so in spite of the DRM. No one who purchases an iPod is forced to buy songs from iTMS; those who do (and I'm into it around $500) find it valuable and easier than perusing the stacks at Borders.
post #16 of 176
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs on Tuesday called upon the "big four" music companies to drop their anti-piracy restrictions and allow digital music tracks to be sold openly on the Internet for any brand of digital music player.

In a letter titled "Thoughts on Music" posted on Apple's website, Jobs addressed calls for the company to "open" the digital rights management (DRM) system that it uses to protect its music against theft, so that music purchased from iTunes can be played on digital devices purchased from other companies and vice versa.

Jobs said that one of the key provision of Apple's agreements with the music companies is that it repair breaches to its FairPlay DRM system promptly, a task which would prove "near impossible" should the company take the route of licensing the technology to multiple parties.

"If our DRM system is compromised and their music becomes playable on unauthorized devices, we have only a small number of weeks to fix the problem or they can withdraw their entire music catalog from our iTunes store," he wrote.

Of similar concern, said Jobs, is that licensing a DRM involves disclosing some of its secrets to many people in many companies, which would inevitably produce leaks.

"The Internet has made such leaks far more damaging, since a single leak can be spread worldwide in less than a minute," he wrote. "Such leaks can rapidly result in software programs available as free downloads on the Internet which will disable the DRM protection so that formerly protected songs can be played on unauthorized players."

As a result, Jobs said that Apple has concluded that if it licenses FairPlay to others, "it can no longer guarantee to protect the music it licenses from the big four music companies." A more suitable alternative, he said, would be to abolish DRMs entirely, creating a world where every online store sells DRM-free music that would play on any digital music player from any company.

"This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat," Jobs wrote. "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."
post #17 of 176
I don't have a problem with DRM the way Apple uses it.
I don't care actually.
I do care about the quality of the music sold via iTS because it's rather poor at 128kbps.

Lossless would make me consider downloads over CDs though.
(although I would miss the artwork)
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post #18 of 176
I am jumping for joy after reading that Steve Jobs is publicly bashing DRM and saying Apple would rather sell DRM-free music than music with DRM!!!! I LOVE YOU, STEVE JOBS! All this time I thought you had no clue about this! Please, Steve, force the industry to embrace DRM-free-NESS. I would TOTALLY BUY MORE MUSIC ONLINE (from iTunes) IF IT WERE NOT SHACKLED BY DRM! THAT'S RIGHT - THE RECORD COMPANIES WOULD BE GETTING WAY MORE OF MY MONEY!!! But until it's DRM-free, FORGET IT!

Please make it happen, Steve!

And, next, do the same with the video content!!!!

post #19 of 176
Couple of thoughts.

What would removing DRM mean for the subscription services?

Would the Big 4 relent on DRM but .... insist on higher/variable pricing?
post #20 of 176
Right on Steve!

From an artists perspective I think Apple should license DRM to the labels that want it for a yearly fee. Give them the code but without warrantee.

Labels can put DRM on everything including the CD and instead of making Apple be the cop, the labels can do it for themselves.

If the labels used DRM to track computers that play the stuff via the internet with auto reporting they could compare against sales. Then they would have a game plan to re-establish the rules for such requirements and proof to make a better case to the public for protections. As it has been, an artist releases his stuff and experiences a few sales and then the income just dies but everyone seems to have the CD in some form. So, what is an artist supposed to do to make a living at making music? At least Apple DRM gets us back a few bucks at .99c per tune.

Those who buy and rip for their own use, that's cool but many will send CD copies to friends and they will do the same so big sales are ultimately thwarted to the point that the industry has just shrunk.

I feel if DRM was used as a tracking mechanism instead of hard licensing mechanism then the labels could simply figure out alternatives and everyone would be happy. Well, some of us anyway.

AS for my opinion on DRM, I obviously don't mind as it does offer several computer copies for different personal uses so I don't care either way. I have never had a problem.
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post #21 of 176
That was a very good letter. Hopefully this will result in more pressure on the music companies. However, I do wonder why Apple doesn't "put its money where its mouth is". Steve points out that the big four control 70% of the music. Of the "independents" that control the remaining 30%, many are happy to sell their music DRM-free via places such as Emusic. iTunes also sells this content, but with DRM protection. Why doesn't Apple, as Emusic et. al. do, sell this music DRM free?

I don't know how many of you are aware, but it is actually the iTunes client that adds the DRM encryption to the tracks you buy, not the store. Implementing a system whereby some tracks are DRM encrypted and some are not would be very easy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by piot View Post

What would removing DRM mean for the subscription services?

A "subscription" service ("rental" service is a more accurate name) would not be viable without DRM. But who cares? iTunes doesn't do rental anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aresee View Post

I don't accept that, the AppleTV will play anything that Front Row will play.

You really need to stop saying this, because it simply isn't true. I can't think how Apple could possibly make it any clearer. AppleTV will play MPEG-4 part 2 simple profile and MPEG 4 part 10 baseline and main profile and nothing else. That doesn't mean that AppleTV will only play iTunes Store content - one can create DRM-free MPEG-4 encodes that will play on AppleTV.
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post #22 of 176
Quote:
And, next, do the same with the video content!!!!

DVD's always had DRM.
post #23 of 176
That is a tough position to extricate from, for the human being especially if one is making money at it. Also when it is possible to loose money in the future by moving. The music companies I think may see a cash cow that may be ending milk production. I would not bet that they will give up milking soon.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcUK View Post

Just saw this article on Apple.com

http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/

I completely agree - I dont like DRM but until the music industry removes its head from its posterior, its not an option Apple really has a say in.

I can imagine the bigwigs at the big 4 are frothing at the mouth with this
post #24 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

What would it benefit Apple to put out a letter saying this if they were only going to renege? I'm sure Jobs doesn't believe that the music industry will do away with DRM.

It's a freebie for Jobs to claim he wants to see DRM go away. He knows it won't happen, and this way he can place all the blame on the record companies (which is the legal line they're taking in the European cases), despite the fact that Apple benefits from it.
post #25 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottiB View Post

Perhaps. But your positing that the DRM lock-in is the only advantage, discounting industrial design, features, ease-of-use, the iTunes store, and media selection. If iTMS were to sell AAC files unencumbered, these traits still would merit using iTMS. I think that the majority who use iTMS do so in spite of the DRM. No one who purchases an iPod is forced to buy songs from iTMS; those who do (and I'm into it around $500) find it valuable and easier than perusing the stacks at Borders.

Eh? I don't recall saying DRM was the only advantage. It is an advantage for Apple, and a pretty big one. It's analogous to the advantage MS has in operating systems - it's hard for users to switch because of the investment Windows users have in software for Windows.
post #26 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by gar View Post

I don't have a problem with DRM the way Apple uses it.
I don't care actually.

I do. There are interoperability problems. You can't use a third party media device such as a Roku with iTunes encrypted files. If I use Front Row to access another computer's media and the local machine isn't authenticated, Front Row says "server error" or something like that. I don't understand why they don't want the program to be honest about why it won't play a file.
post #27 of 176
Yesterday we find out that Apple Inc and Apple Corps have settled their legal differences.
Today we get a letter from Steve telling us why the big 5 record labels are bad.

Could it be that Apple could be looking to become record label #6 and offering its music DRM-free?
Inquiring minds want to know.
post #28 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

DVD's always had DRM.

They have copy protection, not DRM. The two are related and meant to achieve the same, but they're not the same.
post #29 of 176
Quote:
It's a freebie for Jobs to claim he wants to see DRM go away. He knows it won't happen, and this way he can place all the blame on the record companies (which is the legal line they're taking in the European cases), despite the fact that Apple benefits from it.

No I do think Apple is ready to be done with DRM. The iPod is essentially a multi-media player it does not matter where the media comes from. With Apples multiplying device offerings the content can be received from anywhere, there isn't much reason to lock people only into iTunes Store.
post #30 of 176
Quote:
They have copy protection, not DRM. The two are related and meant to achieve the same, but they're not the same.

I know I meant DRM as a generic term for copy protection to keep the point consistent.
post #31 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

It's a freebie for Jobs to claim he wants to see DRM go away. He knows it won't happen, and this way he can place all the blame on the record companies (which is the legal line they're taking in the European cases), despite the fact that Apple benefits from it.

My view is that Steve Jobs is stating what he believes. Your view appears to be that he is a liar, willing to publish his lies on one of the most visited websites in the world. Quite a contrast in opinions!
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post #32 of 176
Agreed - with no DRM at all, then the iTunes store is going to be competing directly against MS, Sony, Real, etc, on ease of use and features *alone*... now who do you think is going to win that one? They've got the critical mass they need for self-sustainability, obviously.

If you think about it, also, if they can go DRM free, then every other DRM-laden store out there is going to look awfully lame in comparison, and people will be more likely to buy from the iTunes Store. Apple wins.

If those folks buy the songs, and decide they like the iPod or Mac, Apple wins.

If those folks buy the songs, and decide they want to play them on player X, well, Apple wins less, but they still win in the distribution channel, which, really, is pretty obviously where this is going.

Basically, this is a no-lose situation for them. They get to compete against the other players on simplicity and ease of use alone, and sell based on ease of use and convenience of their online store. Those are the places where they kick ass.

Look at it this way... if iTunes goes DRM free, will any other store be able to not follow suit? Nope. If there is no DRM, and it's an open market, with no lock-in, who do you think is going to do better, Apple, or MS?
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post #33 of 176
Interesting!

Before going to boardroom with the Big Four in march, apple and Jobs created a big backup to fight with Big Four. DRM Down!

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post #34 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmoNut View Post

Right now the only beef I have about DRM-protected iTunes content is that I can't easily play it on any kind of music-playing cell phone AND my iPods. I'm looking to buy a new cell phone in the next several months and am dreading the task of burning and ripping my iTunes content.

(Aside: I'm also dreading converting all of my Apple Lossless files to something a cell phone can play, but that's another matter.)

My wife has a Sony Ericsson 750i & I have an 850i, both of which have memory sticks. I can use either the application "iTuneMyWalkman" (from Versiontracker) or the memory stick, to just drag whatever songs from iTunes straight onto the memory stick, or use the cable provided by SE to transfer direct from my iTunes onto my cellphone. Dead easy, and designed to work this way.
post #35 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by meelash View Post

The statistics he quoted (while he did twist them, by falsely assuming the average, to fit his interpretation, by ignoring the illegal music segment) clearly show that the huuuuge majority of people playing music on iPods are not using music bought from the iTunes Store. If you assume the more accurate (I think) interpretation of the data that the market is split into people who just use legal music and people who just use illegal and/or CD purchased music you can see that only around 2 million (2billion/1000 songs per iPod) of the ipods sold or 2.2% of iPods sold are to people who use the iTunes store to fill them. I, for example, am one of the others who does not own a single track from the iTunes store. So you're argument is pretty weak, that Apple should be fighting for DRM to lock in 2.2% of their customers. They would probably turn off more than that amount if it were revealed that they were supporting DRM.

Actually, I think the numbers are this way because a great deal of people are buying songs at iTunes that actually don't have an iPod.

I bought well over a hundred songs from iTMS before I ever owned an iPod.
I was more than happy to listen on my laptop or desktop or burn to a CD for my car.
post #36 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by deanbar View Post

My wife has a Sony Ericsson 750i & I have an 850i, both of which have memory sticks. I can use either the application "iTuneMyWalkman" (from Versiontracker) or the memory stick, to just drag whatever songs from iTunes straight onto the memory stick, or use the cable provided by SE to transfer direct from my iTunes onto my cellphone. Dead easy, and designed to work this way.

You are mistaken in some way.

Only tracks bought from the iTunes Store are DRM protected. Tracks that you've imported yourself are not. Any track that you've bought from the iTS and is therefore DRM protected will not play on your phones, unless you remove the DRM by using QTfairUse 6 or similar, or burn the track to CD and rip it back to your machine.
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post #37 of 176
There's another reason for Jobs to be publicly positioning Apple to be against DRM: Vista.

One of the aspects of Vista that hasn't gotten a lot of press yet (although I think it will) is its aggressive implementation of all kind of right management controls at the OS/hardware level.

From what I've read it looks like MS decided that the fast track to being the default media device for the 21st century was to pretty much give the RIAA/MPAA anything and everything they wanted in terms of controlling what and how and when you play back digital media on a PC (and undoubtedly PC derivatives).

I think Apple is hoping to get the content industry to follow by leveraging their iTunes clout, and MS hopes that allowing the content industry to lead will give them the access to challenge that clout.

If Apple hadn't snuck in under the radar with the iPod, it would all be over by now anyway-- implement any and all industry mandated hardware/software controls or have no access to content.

Instead, the industry pretty much has to dance with Jobs, but you know they resent the hell out of it. So they work with MS to make Vista a DRM platform, while Jobs works to remind consumers that Leopard won't have anything like the DRM tripwires as Vista and hopes to force the industry's hand by having the most popular distribution service.

Should be interesting.
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post #38 of 176
The current situation is insane.

Most CDs aren't DRM protected. I can legally rip my CDs into unprotected MP3s, AACs or whatever digital format I like and use it on whatever player is capable of playing back those formats. However, if I buy a digital copy of the same recording (which probably costs less to distribute and therefore generates more profits for the label), I have to live with all the restrictions that come with DRM.

It doesn't make any sense to apply completely different legal restrictions to the same content just because it is sold in two different formats. Actually the higher quality version of the content (the CD) has less restrictions that the lower quality (DRM protected compressed format of your choice).
post #39 of 176
If the labels wanted to retaliate, the one thing they could do is tighten down it's DRM policy and prohibit iTunes protected tracks from being burned to CD. I mean, as it is right now, the DRM is useless.. All one has to do is burn to cd and then re-import. A three minute process and wella, DRM is gone. But if they took away the ability to burn (like iTunes movies,) then iTunes purchased music would truly be dependent on the iPod.

I don't want this to happen, but it is something the labels could do, if they really wanted to piss Apple and/or Steve off.
post #40 of 176
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Yesterday we find out that Apple Inc and Apple Corps have settled their legal differences.
Today we get a letter from Steve telling us why the big 5 record labels are bad.

Could it be that Apple could be looking to become record label #6 and offering its music DRM-free?
Inquiring minds want to know.

Now you're talking! We often hear musicians complaining that the labels
take too much money for distributing the music. If musicians started signing
with Apple to exclusively distribute their music thru iTunes, DRM forced by
the labels would disappear. The "big four" would stagger toward extinction as,
one-by-one, artist contracts expire and they sign with Apple.
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