The whole of the Internets are atwitter with chatter and analysis about Steve Jobs’s “Thoughts on Music” essay published yesterday on the Apple website.
“Is it a challenge to the major record labels? An answer to the increasingly hostile European governments (Norway, France, Germany) that are pressuring Apple to “open up” the iTunes Store? A message to the press to clarify Apple’s stance on DRM? A big fuck-you to Microsoft?
It is all of these things.” – John Gruber
Personally, I think this is a bold move on Apple’s part, and hope (and believe) it’s no bluff. This is a call to arms against the music companies who have been hopelessly clueless about the ugly truth about DRM: it will NEVER work. Never EVER. The problem is, as John Gruber writes, “DRM and interoperability are mutually exclusive,” so the labels’ and others’ insistence on Apple “opening up” Fairplay (Apple’s iTunes DRM scheme) is a white elephant. The only path to true interoperability is no DRM, not open DRM.
I especially like Jobs’ analysis of existing music distribution practices – the “hello!” reminder to executives that the vast majority of the music they sell is already in the form of unprotected high-quality digital CD’s that anyone can copy/rip/burn. Why this insistence on a scheme that DOES NOTHING to prevent digital piracy?