Tomás F. Serna
March 1, 2007
On February 6, Mr. Steve Jobs, Apple’s Chief Executive Officer published an open letter titled: “Thoughts on Music“.
It seemed to me that this caught everybody in this arena completely off-guard, as such a thing as an open letter from the very secretive Apple (BTW, not Apple Computer anymore), was something unheard of.
This was probably a first step in a strategy towards the heat that Apple is taking from some EU member States on its wildly successful iPod+iTunes endeavor. A strategy that seems to have had its first go made at the PR level. Probably a very wise step.
There have been far too many reactions for me to enumerate or to link to here, but I still would like to offer a thought of my own.
There is clearly a stigma associated with DRM (Digital Rights Management), technologies. The most widely spread assumption seems to be that DRM embody or inherently represent evil.
Mr. Jobs certainly has a point in that the vast majority of the music sold in the world, has been and is sold DRM free. He most certainly has all the credit in world as the key driving force behind the initiative that changed the fate of every legal on-line music selling venture up to the time when he championed his iTunes strategy to the major music labels.
I could have misread his writing, but he seems to argue on Apple having been forced to employ DRM on iTunes, in connection with how this limits the ways in which end users are later allowed to make use of media sold through the iTunes music store.
We already discussed, not too long ago, the great concerns that EU authorities have publicly voiced towards the lack of transparency that surrounds the copyright levies remuneration scheme currently in place across the EU.
This outrageously unfair scheme, is the one that for instance makes everyone in the EU buying a blank CD/DVD/VHS tape…, pay an always increasing fee that ends in the hands of the organizations that supposedly represent the owners of the economic copyrights of whatever works are supposedly at stake.
Apparently, it really doesn’t matter to legislators across Europe the fact that a great number of these blank media will never be used in connection with no work subject to copyright, or at least to any work whose related economic intellectual property rights could be possibly administered by these organizations.
DRM technologies could be a plausible answer to that. We need to start by recognizing that copyright owners face incredible economic risks in today’s digital world. At the same time, consumers who are willing to pay for copyrighted work (as opposed to easily downloading a high quality illegal copy of the same piece, whatever it might be), shouldn’t be punished by having limited the ways in which they are entitled to enjoy their purchased media.
In a world in which technology makes possible to sell an unlimited number of exact individual copies of almost any kind of media to potentially every individual with a credit card, paypal account or the like… Why not employ DRM technologies to uniquely ID the owner of each licensed copy sold, as a means to dissuade inappropriate distribution of them?
Once again: not to restrain the ways in which he or she would be entitled to enjoy their licensed media (be it mp3 players, computers, etc.), but to uniquely identify the legitimate owner of each licensed copy sold.
All the best, TFS
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