The ground shook the Apple tree Thursday.
It all started last week when Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Company Inc., released an essay or open letter asking for the end of digital rights management. In practical terms, DRM is why a user can only sync his/her iTunes library with an iPod instead of another mp3 player.
For the normal user, the term DRM and the ins and outs of digital copyright laws are unknown. No one really needs to understand all of that to download music to their iPod, but what makes this interesting is a report released by JupiterResearch lead analyst Mark Mulligan two days after Jobs' announcement.
Mulligan's report said over half of European music executives agreed that DRM rules were too strict and that if they were dropped, music sales would benefit greatly.
The fact that so many execs wanted some liberation from DRM is surprising.
The report itself can only be viewed after purchase, but BetaNews' Scott M. Fulton III offers an in-depth, understandable article that gives an explanation of the data in the report. In Fulton's analysis, he said what Jobs' and other music execs are really for is the ability to protect against theft while at the same time allowing consumers to purchase music from any Internet music story and sync that music with any mp3 player, which is called interoperability heaven.
DRM does not solve the problem of the illegal sharing of music. It just protects music from being converted so that it can be shared on peer-to-peer networks; although, I'm certain someone has come up with a way around that too.
But, all that is needed for an illegal copy of a song to become available on the Internet is for one DRM-free copy to come out (i.e. one ripped from a CD and published on a peer-to-peer file sharing network). Once it is out, that copy will be duplicated and shared in an exponential fashion among users. So, the real problem is not DRM, as Jobs' said, but preventing the availability of illegal music.
Now, some would like to say that Apple and Jobs are just cashing in with the limited interoperability of iTunes and iPod. In other words, Apple has created a system where users that have bought music on iTunes must buy an iPod so that they can listen to it on the go. I think that is a little outlandish.
It's just good business sense to create programs that compliment each other. Also, I would not say there is some never-ending cycle being created by Apple. Especially, since iTunes will locate any music on someone's computer and add it to the iTunes library and ultimately one's iPod. So, users don't have to purchase music at the iTunes store.
So, at least Jobs said he is ready to see a change. Now, let's see where it goes from here.