Steve Jobs... Music wants to be free

cy

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Music wants to be free
Everyone will benefit if digital music is sold without copy-protection

"IT WAS uncharacteristically low-key for the industry's greatest showman. But the essay published this week by Steve Jobs, the boss of Apple, on his firm's website under the unassuming title "Thoughts on Music" has nonetheless provoked a vigorous debate about the future of digital music, which Apple dominates with its iPod music-player and iTunes music-store. At issue is "digital rights management" (DRM)—the technology guarding downloaded music against theft. Since there is no common standard for DRM, it also has the side-effect that songs purchased for one type of music-player may not work on another. Apple's DRM system, called FairPlay, is the most widespread. So it came as a surprise when Mr Jobs called for DRM for digital music to be abolished."

http://www.economist.com/daily/news/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8660389&top_story=1

jobs.JPG
 

Brighteyez

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Actually it will just drive up the cost of music for those who buy it. Because they'll have to pay for the bootleg versions that one's parasitic friends mooch off of them. For that same reason, software has been higher than it had to be, because in addition to paying for your legitimate copy, you also had to pay for the average of 10 bootleg copies that is generated from each legitimate copy.

Realistically any CD that meets the Redbook standard does not have any copy protection and can be ripped into as many legit fair-use copies and as many bootleg copies for your friends as you choose.

If there were no copy protection, why would anyone want to buy content from iTunes when it would be freely shared on peer-to-peer networks?

If Jobs wanted the content that he sells to be more transportable, he would have used the WMA standard that every other legitimate music download site uses rather than iTunes proprietary copy protection, or he would enable licensing of that copy protection standard to other music vendors.

As far as I see this, it's nothing more than a CYA move to cover for Apple's historically closed architecture. I wonder if there is something in the wind that is about to nip at Apple's reign on digital music?
 

elgarak

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brighteyez (and everyone else, for that matter), read Steve Jobs original article.

It's most enlightening.

My Ipod Nano right now has 100% DRM free music files on it. I bought it all legally on CD. Most of my music is not sold by the big 4, and I know that a sizable portion of my money went back to the original artist, as opposed to most music sold by the big 4.
 
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Brighteyez

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elgarak said:
brighteyez (and everyone else, for that matter), read Steve Jobs original article.

Thank you, Jobs rant came out yesterday, I read it then. As with political statements, you sometimes have to read between the lines in business statements as well. In this case, Apple made their own bed with their unique form of DRM.

So why won't iPods support industry-standard WMA content that is distributed by every other legit music distributor? Why are iPod owners chained to iTunes if they want to buy/download legitimate digital content? And why is one forced to buy an iPod if they want to buy music from iTunes? Why can't MP3 players from other manufacturers play iTunes content? It's got nothing to do with DRM, but rather Apple's choice to exclude other manufacturers from their perceived domain. We've all seen what a success Apple's closed architecture has done for the desktop computer market. Sound's like Apple's Big Brother Super Bowl ad may be due for a return.

elgarak said:
My Ipod Nano right now has 100% DRM free music files on it. I bought it all legally on CD.

I heard something about that a while back. Isn't it some new-fangled thing called Motion Picture Experts Group Layer 3? (MP3) :D
 

elgarak

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Brigheyez, you see, this post makes me wonder if you really have read the article. Cause he answers all the questions you ask. :)
 

Brighteyez

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Yes, I read the article, just as I do many of the hi-tech articles that may be either publically released or have limited distribution that excludes the mainstream consumer market.

I also understand that there are people on this site feel a need that others conform to their beliefs and opinions, a few that even demand it. My apologies if I can't comply, I was never any good at masquerading as a lemming.

Steve Jobs has every right to express his opinion whether it be on the web site of his company, or in the form of a press release publically. I don't think he was really trying to play Pied Piper, nor was he expecting everyone to fall in line behind him. It may be more wishful thinking that a realistic goal. You'll probably also notice that the statement has been very carefully worded more as an attack on Microsoft's Zune by Toshiba, and it's attempt at an exclusive music service (Sony's position in the marketplace is negligible.) Believe it or not, there are a number of other download music services that do serve the portion of digital music customers and manufactuers who went with Microsoft's PlaysForSure standard.

Unless someone spends all their life under a rock, there are a number of choices that the consumer can make. CDs that are compliant to the Redbook standard can be ripped to digital format files with or without restriction and they are available on the open market, people do have the option of buying them rather than downloading content. As Jobs mentions, the download market is a lot less that what the record companies are whining about. He's right, the digital download market is not impacting the record companies, piracy is.

He's not going to be able to license his DRM, because the rest of the market has already adapted a different version with Microsoft. Bottom line is iTunes is the only service that uses this form of DRM and it can only be played on iPods that are also marketed by Apple. I believe the term that Jobs is trying to steer away from is "monopoly" which may have some deleterious effects on Apple's business in Europe, and may also endanger the monopoly that Apple's iPod/iTunes has in the US.

The other thing is that is not mentioned in Job's statement is that many record companies are looking at various forms of copy protection (and have been doing so for years) for CDs since exact digital duplicates can be made from those, unlike the degraded analog generations derived from recording vinyl-based content. The Redbook standard does not provide for any form of copy protection.

On the other hand, if Jobs gets his way, he may as well wave bye-bye to iTunes as well. You can pretty much expect the largest music download services to be based in countries where copyrights cannot be enforced (e.g. allofmp3.com) or in countries that routinely ignore the copyrights of other countries.

elgarak said:
Brigheyez, you see, this post makes me wonder if you really have read the article. Cause he answers all the questions you ask. :)
 

cy

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Report: EMI in talks with online retailers to possibly sell MP3s without copy protection

"Music company EMI Group PLC -- home of The Rolling Stones and Coldplay -- has been talking with online retailers about possibly selling its entire digital music catalog in MP3 format without copy protection, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing numerous people familiar with the matter.

The MP3 format, which can be freely copied and played on virtually any device, would allow consumers to play music purchased from any online store on any digital music device."

http://www.suntimes.com/technology/250463,emi020907.article
 

gadget_lover

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I don't see a need to 'read between the lines" of a public statement. The statement itself is supposed to represent the views of the writers. Anything 'read into it' is actually the views of the reader, and have no direct tie to the original statement.

Having said that, I am glad to hear ANY voice speaking out against DRM. I don't use MS products for most of my gadgets. I like being able to play my music (ripped from my CDs) on my Linux system, my Palm pilot and my cell phone. I don't feel I should be required to accept the MS end user agreement associated with sofftware that implements the WMA standard.

I've been using an MP3 player since 1999, and see no reason to add the complexity of DRM to the system. I also don't see the entertainment industry as a helpless victim. The RIAA rips off the artists shamelessly and do it publicly. I'd not be upset if all the RIAA members went bankrupt.

Daniel
 

matrixshaman

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Yea - Jobs has a bit of a free spirit in him. I used to see him Hang Gliding at Elk Mountain sometimes when I used to be flying. Good for him.
 

Brighteyez

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I don't think free spirit has as much to do with it as the fact that there are countries in the EU that are looking at the potential for anti-trust action with the iTunes/iPod relationship, along with Apple's proprietary DRM that prevents iTunes tracks from being played on other players, along with the fact that iPods cannot play content from other providers that use the WMA format with DRM. I'm more inclined to think that it may be a diversionary tactic.



matrixshaman said:
Yea - Jobs has a bit of a free spirit in him.
 

Brighteyez

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If you're ripping your own content for your own use, there isn't a reason.

And it would indeed be to the advantage of those who do not rip music, or pay for their content, to be able to just trade it across networks.

The point about the RIAA ripping off artist is a good point, but I'm not sure how that justifies the general consumer ripping off the artist by trading the content without royalties.

gadget_lover said:
I've been using an MP3 player since 1999, and see no reason to add the complexity of DRM to the system. I also don't see the entertainment industry as a helpless victim. The RIAA rips off the artists shamelessly and do it publicly. I'd not be upset if all the RIAA members went bankrupt.

Daniel
 

gadget_lover

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Brighteyez, you are reading too much into what I wrote. I don't need DRM. I have scruples, and they work quite well.

The fact that I dislike ypocritical companies that assume that I'm going to rip them off (because they rip off the artists???) has nothing to do with justifying piracy. It has to do with the irony of the situation.

I think it's absurd that anyone would force me to use their particular choice of software just so they can be sure that I'm honest. It's just plain silly.

There's nothing to read into this message. I'm an honest person who assumes that most others are too. I hate being forced to patronize MS when I don't have to. Nothing is hidden between the lines.

Daniel
 

Brighteyez

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I don't see where anyone is forcing you to use their software. It doesn't matter if you use lossy compression formats from Microsoft or Fraunhofer, it's soley your choice. Even an iPod can play an MP3 track, you just can't and won't get that from iTunes.

You're not even 'forced' to use Windows, you can use Linux or one of the other UNIX derivatives, and whatever GUI you choose.

Insofar as the creation of content for personal use, I don't think that is the reason for the content protection, and I'm pretty sure we're all aware of that.

And just to backtrack a little, I should add that there are sites that do offer content in unprotected MP3 content for downloads. They're just not always artists whose names you might be familiar with, and are generally classified as "emerging artists"

gadget_lover said:
Brighteyez, you are reading too much into what I wrote. I don't need DRM. I have scruples, and they work quite well.

The fact that I dislike ypocritical companies that assume that I'm going to rip them off (because they rip off the artists???) has nothing to do with justifying piracy. It has to do with the irony of the situation.

I think it's absurd that anyone would force me to use their particular choice of software just so they can be sure that I'm honest. It's just plain silly.

There's nothing to read into this message. I'm an honest person who assumes that most others are too. I hate being forced to patronize MS when I don't have to. Nothing is hidden between the lines.

Daniel
 

James S

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The point, I believe, is that by far the vast majority of music in digital format in the world has no DRM attached to it, and yet in order to be allowed to sell it already in that format Apple had to agree to DRM it. iTunes and your iPod work just fine with any other non-DRM'ed content be it WMV or MP3 or aiff or whatever you want. The only time there is a problem is when you have bought DRM'ed content from somewhere else. You can also 100% un-drm any iTunes music by burning it to a CD for goodness sake.

What this illustrates is that DRM is pointless, and useless and required not because it stops pirating, it cant if the other 98% of the music out there has none, but because the folks that own the right to let Apple sell it want it that way.

The only content I've purchased on the iTunes store that I can't move to any other machine by burning a disk is the season pass to Battlestar Galactica and the Desden Files that I've bought to watch while I'm working out. Other than that the only thing that locks me to an iPod is how sucky the competition is ;)

Apple cannot sell the music unprotected or teach others to decode it because the music companies will pull their contract.

Take it up with them.
 

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Steve Job's "statistics" are dead on for me as he mentioned typically only three percent of loaded portable music is DMR.. I have a few DMR songs from itunes and the Best Buy music store but because of the very reasons he mentioned, got tired of dealing with the whole DMR hassle. The bulk of my music I downloaded from a mixture of the "free" Napster days, now allofmp3s.com and ones I ripped myself from cds. I don't know if I would ever buy 99 cent songs in bulk even with no DMR but I won't buy any now. That was a decent article.
 

Brighteyez

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That is indeed the bottom line, whether it be iTunes, Wal*Mart, Rhapsody, Buymusic, or any other content provider that is selling content from the major labels. I think it is self explantory as to why a label wouldn't want to sell an unprotected track so that it could be replicated without royalties several million times around the internet within an hour or two.

James S said:
Apple cannot sell the music unprotected or teach others to decode it because the music companies will pull their contract.

Take it up with them.
 

elgarak

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Brighteyez said:
That is indeed the bottom line, whether it be iTunes, Wal*Mart, Rhapsody, Buymusic, or any other content provider that is selling content from the major labels. I think it is self explantory as to why a label wouldn't want to sell an unprotected track so that it could be replicated without royalties several million times around the internet within an hour or two.
And yet, the same label continues to sell the same track on a CD, which can be replicated around the internet within less than an hour after coming back from the store :) (with legal software included, e.g., in Windows).

I fail to see why one is more damaging than the other.
 

KROMATICS

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"The most serious problem is that licensing a DRM involves disclosing some of its secrets to many people in many companies, and history tells us that inevitably these secrets will leak. The Internet has made such leaks far more damaging, since a single leak can be spread worldwide in less than a minute. 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."

"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. Perhaps this same conclusion contributed to Microsoft's recent decision to switch their emphasis from an "open" model of licensing their DRM to others to a "closed" model of offering a proprietary music store, proprietary jukebox software and proprietary players."

"The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. 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. 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. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music."

The full article is here: Thoughts on Music
 
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