Some days you hate Jobs and others you love him. Today it’s the latter. Read this letter from Jobs to those in Europe who seem to be overly obsessed these days with Apple opening up iTunes and licensing their FairPlay technology. In the letter Steve-o explains why Apple has been required to add DRM to iTunes by the major labels and that if Fairplay is ever hacked, Apple’s agreement with the record companies give them just weeks to fix the problem. If Apple fails to patch iTunes or iPods fast enough, the labels have the right to pull all their titles off iTunes completely. Obviously, in opening up Fairplay, Apple would have to reveal secret aspects of their technology to 3rd parties. This compromises the security of the system and makes the task of managing and updating 3rd party software and players in the time frame agreed upon with the labels almost impossible. So, (believe it or not) that is how Apple explains Fairplay in iTunes and why they can’t simply open it up.
Where the real meat of this letter lies though, is in the alternative solutions Jobs offers for fixing this broken DRM model; a model both Sony (Sony Connect) and Microsoft (Zune) seem to also be required to follow. In Jobs’ opinion the best choice is for the record companies is to remove DRM from digitally distributed music completely. He makes some very compelling arguments and even calls out the labels who Jobs says, “are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free” by putting out CDs which are completely unprotected and DRM free. There are some great facts and information in this letter so, if you care about this stuff at all you take a moment to read it.
Like I said, some days you just have to love Steve Jobs.
Thoughts on Music, Steve Jobs