Steve Jobs Suggests No DRM For iTunes

February 6, 2007

This is pretty amusing stuff: Steve Jobs and his Thoughts On Music.

It’s basically a suggestion (and a reality check) loosely directed towards the music industry, that since we know most of the music out there is DRM free, and consumers like it that way, why not just forget about it and move towards a DRM free world?

I’m totally on board with that.

Here’s a thought: most of us already live this DRM free music paradise. I ripped my entire music collection off of CDs into iTunes several years ago. Jobs recognizes this when he says “No DRM system was ever developed for the CD”. Of course, I’m sure many in the record industry now look back on that as one of their biggest mistakes. But what was the thinking back then? And who can deny that they still sold crap loads of CDs?

Another item of note in this memo is that Steve Jobs clearly states that Apple doesn’t like DRM either. They would be totally happy selling DRM free music from the iTunes store. This puts all the onus of “who’s-the-bad-guy” on the record labels.

But of course, this might be a matter of Jobs playing the odds. What does he care if DRM exists or not: Apple sells scads of iPods either way. But with Europe suing Apple for DRM, Apple is forced to address the question. In this letter, he’s saying it’s not Apple’s fault, it’s the record labels and the licensing deals they made Apple sign. Apple is positioning itself as the good guy in the middle, trying to give people what they want, and convince the record companies they need to move into living in a DRM-free world – where most of us already are.

Pretty smart, as Apple comes off looking blameless, and continues to sell crap loads of iPods while the music industry sits around trying to figure out what to do. One thing is for sure, they can’t pull out of the iTunes Music Store in protest.

Additional Reading: parislemon, Ars Technica, Mathew Ingram