Has Steve been body-snatched?

by Michael Brewer

Related link: http://macminute.com/2004/06/14/dvd



Has Steve Jobs been a recent victim of the body-snatchers? Steve has spoken in the past about how copy-protection mechanisms do not work, about how they'll never work, and about how the real answer is a social (or economic) answer instead of a technological one. But today we get a Steve that says this?
Jobs even suggested that high-definition DVD burners not be bundled with computers at all -- a scenario he said in an interview was 'extreme' and one that 'I hope we don't have to get to, but it helps to put the issue in perspective.' He said it is up to the tech industry to prove to Hollywood that high-definition content can be adequately protected. In making his argument, Jobs signaled that he is for now siding with Hollywood, rather than Silicon Valley, when it comes to protecting movie content from pirates.
What is he thinking? This doesn't sound like the same old Jobs. Not only is he evangelizing DRM, he's also suggesting hamstringing the Macintosh platform (a platform positioned for content producers) in order to placate the movie-industry. Is this merely shortsightedness from the Pixar CEO or has Steve had a change of heart?

What does this mean for Apple and the industry as a whole?


13 Comments

hmurchison
2004-06-14 20:27:50
Jobs can't be trusted
I love his ability to rally the troops. I love his marketing skills and vision in some areas. But Steve has glaring weaknesses that keep coming up. Failure to make conservative predictions(iTunes, 3Ghz) have made his statements a little less concrete. Adequately protecting a person IP is fine with me but even the mere suggestion that HD burners shouldn't come bundled with computers border on insane. The computer industry doesn't not create tech for the sake of the entertainment industry. Steve is simply gaining favor with Hollyweird execs should he need to partner with them someday. He knows well that HD Burners are just as much a necessity as the playback drives themselves. Apple is heavily vested in the tools required to produce HD content. There is no way they cannot complete the circle.
vdubya
2004-06-14 22:19:03
Body Snatched is a MOVIE
I think this is the negotiator trying to show his support for the movie industry. The reason for this is clear, he's working on licensing for a movie download service. He wants the big names in Hollywood to know that he's NOT giving the key to the lock, to movie pirates when his new service hits the market. Steve's always about the creation and creativity, but he's also trying to round up the same support as he did for iTMS. He knows Apple can do it right, but so many others can really screw it up.
jwenting
2004-06-14 23:33:23
maybe he's come to his senses
maybe Steve has finally discovered that social control won't stop piracy.
Piracy has now become not just a generally accepted phenomenon but is seen by ever more people as "cool", "punishing large corporations", etc..
In such an environment where the social control pushes people TOWARDS IP infringement rather than away from it, the only means to stop such infringement is large scale policing and technological means.
aristotle
2004-06-15 04:15:57
maybe he's come to his senses
Sigh. Utter tripe. I don't even know where to begin.
simon_hibbs
2004-06-15 04:50:40
maybe he's come to his senses
Maybe he should finally discover that financial muscle and ploitical manipulation won't stop people excercising their fair use rights.
Fair use rights for consumers have now become not just a generaly accepted phenomenon but is seen by ever more people as "cool", despite the efforts of large corporations.


Etc, etc...

mbrewer
2004-06-15 05:32:29
maybe he's come to his senses
I don't know about that. From what I've noticed since the iTunes Music Store was started, public discussion has moved away from talking about the latest file-sharing network and towards discussions about the relative success of the Music Store (and its competitors) and how DRM used on music purchases affects fair use. Both of which I consider to be healthy discussions.
mbrewer
2004-06-15 05:38:18
Body Snatched is a MOVIE
That's a good point. I hadn't thought of that. It could make sense -- especially with all the other companies (Netflix, Real, Tivo, etc.) making a move into this realm.
monkeyt
2004-06-15 07:59:56
Two Hats
There are only two chairs for Jobs to be sitting in during this discussion - as a distributor of other of people's products (millions of them, literally), or as a content provider whose entire holdings are made up of a relatively small number of products. The second chair is the position of every single person he's trying to negotiate a deal with right now. Relating to them would be a very good strategy, and, to this point, they have proven so paranoid that I doubt they would speak with anyone who didn't agree with them up front. Is that the way it's going to be in the end? I hope not. But you have to get them talking before any compromises can be made, and Steve is currently in the position of 'the enemy conspirator' to these people: he is the one man who has already proven that he has the resources to package and deliver their goods right into the hands of those who would illegally exploit them (regardless of the fact that these very people they are afraid of are their own consumers). Do we know what his real position is? no. Neither does the film industry. But his public statements are at least enough to allow them to meet officially without either side losing face among their film industry peers (Jobs showed long ago what he thinks about the opinions of others in the computer industry.). I'm not terribly optimistic about the final outcome of this fight, but I don't think that his statement signifies a draconian policy change on his or Apple's part.
y4notbossme
2004-06-15 11:37:49
copy protection
I think that you are mostly correct.
I think copy protection works in a limited way. It certainly can't prevent the intelligent theives, but it can deter the people who don't have the technical savy. So it gives you limited protection.


To address the problem fully you need a way that people can legally obtain the material at a fair price. This of course won't stop some people ( I know a few ) that believe they are somehow striking a blow to the "man" by stealing content. I think the theft only convinces the "man" that the content has some value and that he needs to protect the content. If you really want to strike a blow, don't steal it and don't buy it. How many stolen copies of "Heaven's Gate" are there in the world?


Of course some content creators are reluctant to share their work if they think it will be easy to steal, so you have to provide a copy protection mechanism to get them to agree to sell it electronically. So jobs may indeed be saying this to start an iVideo service. Imagine paying $4.99 for a movie to download, it really wouldn't be worth stealing for the vast majority of people.


Of course some people will still want to steal at this price. The classic strategy is to make it cheaper to join you than to fight you. So you lower the cost of buying movies while increasing the cost of stealing them by vigorously defending your copyrights.

ianp
2004-06-15 14:34:15
maybe he's come to his senses

A minor, bug significant, correction: you say: ...won't stop piracy. Well, that's just fine but we're not talking about piracy. What we are talking about is copyright infringement, which is a totally different thing. When people who copy music files (and video to a lesser extent) do so at gunpoint, and deprive others of physical goods, then I'll call it piracy. Until that time arrives (and I suspect that I'm in for a long wait here), lets try to maintain a minimal level of accuracy in the debate.

Fud
2004-06-16 02:23:23
Steve gives Hollywood "fair warning"
I think Steve is saying that everybody better get together and be happy about the encryption of DVD HD before it ships. Don't wait until halfway through to discover that you aren't happy with how poorly the "protection" works. What was shocking with CSS is how bad it was and how little responsibility Hollywood took for how bad it was.


As for DVD HD burners not being in computers, it is easy to think of a situation where they are in Macs but not PC's because some kind of software-hardware integration is required that Apple can live up to but Microsoft/Intel can't implement in their gray market. Steve knows that Apple has many options to be better than the average PC so don't necessarily think too much of Jobs talking down "the PC".


I bought the first SuperDrive Power Mac and we make audio DVD's of original content but it seems like many PC's with burners are bought for copying movies only. A friend recently asked me if I "knew about DVD making" and I said "yes" and then the conversation was all about DivX and copying movies and he was totally in another universe from me. I was like "I know about making original DVD's, but I know nothing about copying encrypted ones" and he was disappointed and gave me a look like I am a rube. Ha ha.


Also, I wonder if most people wouldn't be happier with one next-generation disc that has, say, all the Hitchcock movies on it in today's DV, rather than one Hitchcock movie in HD. This is sort of like MP3 overtaking CD on utility instead of quality. Not to mention that you could also charge $100/disc for a disc with 10-20 movies on it as opposed to one HD title for $25.

Jmac
2004-06-16 13:39:14
Steve gives Hollywood "fair warning"
" it is easy to think of a situation where they are in Macs but not PC's because some kind of software-hardware integration is required that Apple can live up to but Microsoft/Intel can't implement in their gray market. "


Wake up dude - you haven't actually seen a PC for about 5 years have you? Macintosh is (sadly) still well below the hardware curve - despite what you have heard from Apple's very false - er, I mean 'creative' marketing of the less-than-impressive G5. They may yet get it together, but you are naive if you still have the outdated view that PC's are junk. (Don't get me wrong - many consumer PC's are low-cost junk, but the higher end of PC hardware is leaving apple in its wake.)


PC's will likely have HD DVD burners in them before Apple sorts out the hardware issues with the G5...


http://www.drunkenbatman.com/drunkenblog-archives/000253.html

fredrikhh
2004-07-04 08:51:12
Steve gives Hollywood "fair warning"
The point was that since Macs are a closed platform, it might be easier to implement protection schemes than on Wintel PCs, which is a more open platform.