Steve Jobs calling for no DRM on online music

7 02 2007

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs today called for the four major record companies to start selling songs online without copy-protection software (DRM, or digital rights management).  I think it’s a great idea.  I like iTunes, but I don’t like being so limited with the music.  As I’ve ranted on before, if I buy a song there, I can’t play it on a non-iPod MP3 player.  If I’m paying 99 cents per song (which seems fair to me), I should be able to play it on any of my music devices (which also seems very fair to me — and legal, consider “Fair Use”).  In a way, it’s surprising Steve Jobs is calling for this, because the DRM somewhat helps them (because of the iPod with iTunes relationship).  But I’m glad someone with clout is standing up for the rights of consumers.

Will the RIAA and the major labels accept this challenge?  It’s doubtful, because they’re greedy and don’t understand as much about business and economics as they think they do.  (I know, that’s a big allegation without proof… but it’s my opinion.)  I think people would buy more music if it wasn’t tied down to particular devices.  I know I would.  That’s why I buy more from than from iTunes.

One more thing the RIAA and the major labels ought to consider — they insist on expensive DRM, which adds cost to the consumer, and takes away freedom from the consumer, and doesn’t deter the big-time pirates.  The people who are trading thousands of MP3s illegally aren’t buying the CD or buying it from iTunes.  All it takes is one person to crack the DRM and unlimited copies can be made.  And all DRM gets cracked.  So instead of hurting consumers by trying to slow down piracy, they should offer more value to the consumer and that will slow down piracy.  They could add more exclusive content, they could lower prices, and they should release more high-quality music (instead of so much “manufactured” pop).  Because of declining sales, they’re less likely to take risks on non-standard artists, yet many people speculate sales are down partly because of so many mediocre, sound-alike artists.

We’ll see what happens…  I still have hope…  Steve Jobs isn’t the only one calling for this




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