Steve Job’s anti-drm essay has received a lot of attention over the last few days. Is this the beginning of the end for DRM? Lets hope the Canadian legislators are paying attention to this in connection with the copyright reform bill thats in the works.
For those who have not seen it – he published an essay concluding that Apple would prefer to be able to sell music withut DRM.
Essentially he said the reason Apple had to put DRM on its iTunes songs to limit consumer use was that the record companies demanded it. Without it, they would not provide iTunes with the songs.
There has been much speculation as to why Apple is now saying this. One motivator will be the decision in Norway saying that Apple’s DRM is illegal as it prevents interoperability. This is Apple’s way of saying to Norway that its not Apple’s fault – they are the victim. Other suggested motivators are a negotiating tactic with the labels for a new deal for iPhone downloads, and a ploy for publicity.
Whatever the motivators, its another example of Steve Job’s ability to get publicity and position Apple as a friend of the consumer – sometimes referred to as his “reality distortion field”. He has sensed that the planets are aligning on this issue – ranging from the Norway decision, the growing awareness of drm in the public, the growing anti-drm movement, and a growing number of smaller labels offering music without drm.
And there is evidence that the approach may be working – or at least has been timed to appear it is working (which from a publicity perspective is just as good for Apple). Michael Geist points out this morning that several news sources are reporting that EMI, one of the 4 major labels, is considering allowing the sale of drm free mp3′s.
And the RIAA’s response was amusing (talk about a reality distortion field). The essay discussed and rejected the possibility of Apple licensing its Fairplay drm software. The RIAA responded by saying that Apple’s offer to license Fairplay was a welcome breakthough.