Steve Jobs calls for an end to DRMApple's CEO has called for an end to digital rights management. In this statement released on Apple's website yesterday, he discusses the state of DRM, setting the blame pretty much entirely on the big four record companies. He says that they insist on embedding copy protection on digital music, even when it doesn't stop piracy and makes many online music stores and players incompatible. (There's also a slightly more neutral NYTimes article.)
Jobs presents some interesting statistics, including that only 3% of the music on the typical iPod was purchased at iTunes (about 22 songs; the rest are open mp3s from CDs and other sources), yet consumers are locked in to purchasing iTunes music and iPod hardware simply to keep playing the music they've already invested in. He says this frustrating experience is simply because the music companies, whose music iTunes licenses only because it has agreed to embed DRM, refuse to face reality. Digital music sales account for about 10% of their total sales ($2 out of 20 billion); the majority of their music is sold as unprotected CDs.
One alternative he considers is licensing Apple's DRM, FairPlay, to other companies so that iTunes music can be played on other devices (like my Nomad MuVo). But spreading FairPlay also increases the risk of encryption leaks, so Apple would have to coordinate with dozens of other companies to perform rapid hardware and software updates every time there's a leak. Also, Apple's getting pressure from European countries to remove DRM. So, Jobs calls for an end to DRM entirely. Yippee.
Does this mean that iTunes would unlock all of my previously purchased music someday? That would be nifty. Otherwise, there's always JHymn.