The Null Device

Steve Jobs, copyfighter

In a dramatic about-turn, Steve Jobs denounces digital rights management (DRM), claiming that Apple only use DRM on their iTunes downloads because labels demand it, and urging everyone to join hands and imagine a DRM-free future:
Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. this is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our itunes store. every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.
which probably has a lot to do with the fact that, thanks to the various Cory Doctorows of this world, DRM is definitely not cool, and Apple is all about being (seen to be) cool. Though some critics are skeptical about how deep the conversion really is:
Mr Johansen pointed to a New York Times report that showed that tracks wrapped in DRM from iTunes are also available through other download services without copy protection. The implication being that not all record labels insist on DRM, but Apple uses it anyway.
Also, it is a matter of public record that iTunes has refused to sell DRM-free music from copyright holders who didn't want DRM, instead insisting that DRM is a mandatory part of the iTunes infrastructure. I wonder whether they'll put their money where their mouth is and change this policy.

Another thing to watch is Apple's iPhone, whose system is locked down like Fort Knox (software running on it will need to be cryptographically signed by Apple), a state of affairs which has nothing to do with the RIAA holding a gun to Apple's head and seems to have everything to do with Apple wanting to maintain total control.

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