Steve on DRM

by Tom Bridge

The biggest name in online music today is Apple. Their successful iTunes store sells songs by the Billion (Yes, with a capital B) to consumers across the globe. Personally, I've spent more money on iTunes buying albums and songs than perhaps I'd care to admit to my wife or to my accountant. At last count, I had close to 2,000 tracks from the iTMS, all with its built-in DRM called FairPlay. Lately there's been a lot of hullaballoo concerning FairPlay and DRM as a whole. Apple's been largely silent on the subject, conspicuously so for a market leader. Today that silence was broken as Steve Jobs himself released a statement on music on the front page of

The statement is unequivocal in its terms: The record labels require us to license their music for sale using FairPlay. We think FairPlay is a good system, but to license it to others would compromise its integrity. If you can convince the record labels, specifically the big four, to license their music to us without DRM, we will include it in our store. Specifically, Apple points out that the European concern regarding DRM lands almost squarely in their own backyard, as Bertelsmann owns half of Sony/BMG, and Vivendi owns Universal outright, as EMI is an entirely British-owned company.

Steve's hint is far from subtle: convince the labels to go DRM-free and Apple will gladly follow suit.

It is a truly interesting day for DRM and Apple and all of the music-loving world. Well done, Steve.


2007-02-06 16:48:38
Yep, if ever anyone needed proof that the record labels and NOT Apple want the DRM in place then there it is. I think the iPod and iTunes can stand up for themselves in the market without needing an iTunes Store lock-in via the FairPlay DRM.
2007-02-07 12:08:24
Now that the Apple vs. Apple lawsuit is over, perhaps Apple, Inc. can become a label in their own right and offer music DRM-free. The could also start with some of the Indie music they current host as well. Building a hybrid system might take more R&D than the effort is worth, but it would show that they are serious.
2007-02-09 01:22:58
I did a presentation years ago about "why Napster was illegal" and my research dug up figures in the realm of $13Billion PROFIT per year for the music companies.

I should think Apple are doing alright by it, but Steve's bang on - people should start griping at the record companies and then we might see a change.

Tip for 2007: I'm sure you've got heaps of music you listen to again and again. Well do that this year. Don't buy another song from Apple iTunes or anywhere and see how the record companies like that.