Steve Jobs "Thoughts on Music" has generated a huge response from the blog world. I wrote a post yesterday explaining Steve's long memo, how we got here, and why I think he is right. Bill Gates agrees...DRM is broken.
Reading through some of the blogs written about this issue I found some interesting, and varied, viewpoints.
Jon Johansen disputes Steve Jobs point that licensing out Apple's DRM would cause it to be hacked. Johansen believes this is just an excuse to keep the Apple iTunes lock-in by keeping the proprietary DRM all to itself. Jon points out "Microsoft’s Windows Media DRM 10 (marketing name PlaysForSure) has not had more security breaches than FairPlay despite the fact that it has been licensed to dozens of companies. "
Robert Scoble thinks Steve Jobs comments are just opportunistic, and points out that Apple's iPhone is also a closed, proprietary system.
BoingBoing questions whether Apple would really drop DRM in a heartbeat, saying "this is new news -- Apple's previous position on this was that they'd have DRM even if the record companies didn't want it."
Thomas Hawk thinks this is just marketing genius by Steve Jobs and that Apple iTunes buyers are suckers. He wrote another blog "iTune, one billion suckers served".
Blogs, like newspapers, often write sensational headlines to attract readers. They often take extreme views to stir up controversy and discussion. Its all about attracting readers and getting links to their blogs.
My view? I agree with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. I think Steve Jobs is sincere and would rather not have DRM. Bill Gates says that DRM is too cumbersome and restrictive for consumers. They both realize that DRM is a necessary evil in order to do business with the record labels. Even though the vast majority of music is still available on the Internet as MP3 files with no DRM, the record labels continue to insist on DRM.
The record labels rightly use the business models and DRM protections that will optimize their revenues. They are not interested in appealing to the desires of millions of music fans who want all their music free. Hey, don't get me wrong, I was one of the original Napster guys. We changed the world and turned on millions of people to music they had never seen, or had long forgotten. We thought we were doing the record labels a big favor and opening up a huge new online revenue stream. Maybe true, but the labels want to do it their way, on their terms, with DRM protection. And you know what, right or wrong, smart or stupid,...it is their choice.