Apple: put your DRM money where Jobs' mouth is

Apple: put your DRM money where Jobs' mouth is

Summary: In his February 6 DRM essay, Steve Jobs took a bold stand on the future (or non-future) or DRM. But Apple itself has never offered a DRM-free iTunes option for artists who agree wholeheartedly with Jobs. Whether it will do so remains to be seen.

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TOPICS: Apple
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My immediate response to Steve Jobs' DRM essay is in line with thoughts already expressed by Cory Doctorow and Lawrence Lessig, to wit:  if Apple is serious about encouraging a consumer friendly, non-DRM'd music landscape, it has no excuse for failing to offer independent artists the option of selling non-DRM'd music through iTunes.  This is particularly critical in the case of Creative Commons licensed music.  In my own iTunes library, I can think of at least two artists — Jonathan Coulton, who posted on this too, and Meme — who sell Creative Commons music through iTunes.  As Creative Commons points out:

If a person uses DRM tools to restrict any of the rights granted in the license, that person violates the license. All of our licenses prohibit licensees from "distributing the Work with any technological measures that control access or use of the Work in a manner inconsistent with the terms of this License Agreement."

To get technical about it, Apple requires artists to enter into a separate license specifically governing iTunes sales, and could also argue its DRM is consistent with the access and use contemplated by CC (even notwithstanding CC's express nonlimitation of fair use).  But getting technical about it is in no way consistent with Apple's newly announced DRM position.  Apple has taken a bold policy stand.  Having done so, it needs to implement that policy immediately for the growing pool of artists in its marketplace who agree with Steve Jobs and aren't signed with Universal, Sony BMG, Warner, EMI, or other DRM-mandating labels.  Jobs' essay would have had a hundredfold greater impact — and would look a lot less like a litigatory and regulatory defense strategy — had it included such an announcement.

Photo by AMagill

[Update, 1:51 p.m.:]  Chuckle-worthy bonus link, Top 10 stories to file alongside Steve Jobs saying DRM is bad, via Ed.

Topic: Apple

Denise Howell

About Denise Howell

Denise Howell is an appellate, intellectual property and technology lawyer who enjoys broad industry recognition for her expertise on the intersection of emerging technologies and law.

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2 comments
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  • Would the record companies..

    Threaten to pull out if they allowed that? There must be a sane business related
    reason for Apple to not allow anyone to sell non DRM music.
    IAHawkeye
  • DRM Strike

    [s]DRM[/s] + [s]RIAA[/s]

    'nuff said
    klumper