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Jobs: I want a DRM-free world

The solution to the problem of digital rights, to the closed universe studied by Apple, to the close link between iPod and iTunes? Simple: no more copy protection. To imagine, indeed to suggest "wholeheartedly" a new approach that would eliminate any problem of interoperability and proprietary constraints, instantly canceling any perplexity that arose (especially in Europe) on the Cupertino ecosystem, neither a hacker nor a commentator veined with libertarian idealism, but no less than Jobs himself.

To make his voice heard on this burning issue, the Apple CEO uses an unusual tool: an open letter published on the website in which he deals in minute detail with the scenario of digital music, presents the possible solutions to face the criticisms that rain on Apple these days and reaches the most surprising conclusion imaginable: total liberalization and music without DRM.

Jobs took pen and paper (or perhaps more properly, keyboard and screen) in the face of the "requests submitted that asked to open the DRM system" to make some clarifications.

The first, we read in the text, remember that you can easily get music without a Drm on Mac; "Free", in fact all the music acquired by CDs and many other sources "this music * says Jobs * works on iPod and on all other players that are compatible with MP3 and AAC formats.


The problem – adds the CEO – comes from the music sold on iTunes which is protected by the copy ". To claim that it was protected, Jobs says, it was the record companies that wanted to protect the songs from copying. Apple for its part, Jobs says, has achieved an unprecedented opening compared to the situation that prevailed before the arrival of iTunes: songs can be played on five different computers and on an unlimited number of iPods.

?To achieve this goal – says the head of Apple – we had to make our Drm system robust so that the songs purchased on iTunes cannot be put on the Internet and played on a computer or on an unauthorized player. This is why we also had to keep secrets. To date, the strategy has worked. " Although there have been occasional "gaps" that have led some hackers to open Fairplay Apple managed, according to Jobs, to close these holes by updating the software quickly.

In the face of all this, what were and continue to be the solutions to make this architecture work? Jobs identifies three ways: the first the current proprietary system, embraced by other major players in the sector (such as Microsoft and Sony), the second lay off FairPlay , the Apple Drm, the third party freely grant music, without protecting it with any copy protection system.

The first system, the current one, according to Apple works well and does not in any way prevent migration between different platforms. The proof simply in the number of songs purchased from iTunes that are 22 for iPod, a laughable number if you think that according to most analysts, Jobs says, iPods are full of music easily reaching a thousand songs. "97% of the music on an iPod – says the Apple CEO – is unprotected. From which it is easy to understand that it is not true that the iPod and iTunes system blocks users ".

The second avenue, the one that leads to lay off FairPlay, is rejected by Jobs. "It would mean – says the CEO – of Apple, to involve too many people in our secrets and weaken the DRM system".

The last road that remains the third: the distribution of music without any system of protection of digital rights and this which Jobs sponsors. ?Why should the big record companies make this choice? Because Drm have never worked and will never work in protecting music from piracy. The four major record companies (Universal, Warner, Sony and Emi) on the other hand sell 20 billion songs a year, 90% of the total, all those sold on CD, completely without the Drm system and do not seem to want to change this trend because they derive their profits from the sales of the same CDs that must work on all audio players. For this reason, one wonders what benefit they have from selling songs on the Internet protected by Drm. "

Jobs's answer to this clear question: the benefits that can be obtained from DRMs are zero, indeed systems for the protection of digital rights slow down the market because the technologies and resources necessary to create DRM systems are in the hands of a few companies and freeing music from copy protection systems would release a lot of energy, favoring the arrival of new companies in the digital music area. "We at Apple – says Jobs – would embrace this world without Drm with enthusiasm".

At the bottom of his letter, Jobs does not fail to launch a polemical arrow at the address of the European countries, the most critical of the closed system created by Apple. ?Anyone who is unhappy with the situation – says Jobs – persuades the record companies to change their approach. Of the largest, those that hold 70% of the market, two and a half out of four (Emi, Universal and part of Sony NDR) are based in Europe. The European nations waste their energy in convincing the record companies to license their music to Apple and all the others without DRM creating a truly interoperable world and Apple will be in the front row to support this new universe "