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Steve Jobs and the State of Legal Music Downloads 964

Posted by pudge
from the if-it-is-not-possible-then-please-drop-your-sharing-limits-in-itunes dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Rolling Stone has published an interview with Steve Jobs about the current state of the music industry. He is a smart man, that guy. 'When we first went to talk to these record companies -- about eighteen months ago -- we said, "None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.s here who know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content."'"
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Steve Jobs and the State of Legal Music Downloads

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  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:19PM (#7669696) Homepage Journal
    Shorts just keep getting longer every year. I'm wearing shorts right now, and didn't even know it.
  • by log0n (18224) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:20PM (#7669704)
    is to make it cool to buy it. Make it something people *want* to spend the $$$ on.
    • Bonus content (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WTFmonkey (652603) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:26PM (#7669770)
      What about something like old vinyl, where having the cover art is half the reason for buying it?

      I've gt a buddy with a HUGE classic vinyl collection (lots of rare stuff) and the artwork is worth WAY more than the record itself. Maybe there's a parallel these guys can draw to offer something a little more tangible than the bits. Having a scan of artwork isn't the same as having a rip of the music.

      Of course for that to work, they'd have to stop pumping out 500 godzillion copies of every single album made, which is a problem for them as well.

      • Re:Bonus content (Score:5, Informative)

        by Frymaster (171343) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:41PM (#7669934) Homepage Journal
        atually, the vinyl industry is a good lead to follow. remember the home taping "debacle" of the late 70's/early 80's ("home taping is killing the recording industry!"). the labels responded with lots of added features to get you to buy the platter:

        1. coloured vinyl. god i love coloured vinyl
        2. gatefold sleeves
        3. bonus flexi discs
        4. free "fan club" memberships with proof of purchase
        5. poster wraps. the idea was blatantly ripped off from a british band crass (who were definitely anti-record industry)
        6. free pony-sized four colour 8-page magazines
        7. infinity groove out tracks. good for parties or, uh, acid trips

        of course you cant to most of that with cd's... but the labels at least have to try.

        • Re:Bonus content (Score:5, Insightful)

          by GoofyBoy (44399) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:46PM (#7670012) Journal
          >of course you cant to most of that with cd's... but the labels at least have to try.

          They should. It would be well worth it for them to come out with a huge book sized packaging with one CD and lots of pages (pictures/text/lyrics), posters and what ever merchandising you can get in there.

          You effectively can charge more, get free advertisement and make it worthwhile for people to go out and buy the product.
        • Re:Bonus content (Score:3, Informative)

          coloured vinyl. god i love coloured vinyl

          It wasn't just coloured! The classic Bauhaus album "Burning From The Inside" [0ne-shop.com] had this incredible picture from its cover somehow "imprinted" (I have no idea how it was achieved from the techical point of view) on the whole surface of the 12" disc. It was an unforgettable experience, just just watching it rotating on the turntable while listening to "She's in parties".
          • Re:Bonus content (Score:5, Informative)

            by proj_2501 (78149) <mkb@ele.uri.edu> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:26PM (#7670544) Journal
            i have lots of kiddie picture discs with pinocchio and donald duck etc. on the entire surface of the disc.

            i also have these really old acetate 78 10" records that had animations on the label that you could watch with a little mirror zoetrope that sat on top of the spinning record.

            also there are weird ways of having two distinct grooves on a record so that depending on where you put the needle down a different song plays. tool did this as well as numerous underground resistance recordings.

            clear vinyl is nifty too.
        • Re:Bonus content (Score:5, Informative)

          by Chibi (232518) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @03:40PM (#7671471) Journal
          of course you cant to most of that with cd's... but the labels at least have to try.


          I've noticed that a few new CDs are being advertised on television bundled with a DVD. Yeah, you might be able to download the DVD content online, too, but this is perhaps a sign of the music industry trying to do more to entice CD purchases (although there are still those who clamor for them to increase the quality of the actual music first).

          I import quite a bit of Japan (yes, I watch too much anime), but the Japanese pack their initial releases with tons of goodies that definitely entice people to buy the actual products. Silkscreens, postcards, DVDs, other kinds of knick-knacks. Looks like the US market might be following suit a bit?

          And for the record, I think despite these rewards, the Japanese also have a problem with piracy, partially due to the fact that their distribution is loaded with so many middlemen that their prices are even more outrageous than in the US.

    • by nehril (115874) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:50PM (#7670068)
      "Our position from the beginning has been that eighty percent of the people stealing music online don't really want to be thieves. But that is such a compelling way to get music. It's instant gratification. You don't have to go to the record store; the music's already digitized, so you don't have to rip the CD. It's so compelling that people are willing to become thieves to do it. But to tell them that they should stop being thieves -- without a legal alternative that offers those same benefits -- rings hollow. We said, "We don't see how you convince people to stop being thieves unless you can offer them a carrot -- not just a stick." And the carrot is: We're gonna offer you a better experience . . . and it's only gonna cost you a dollar a song. "

      This man Understands.
    • by hackstraw (262471) * on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:45PM (#7670786)
      Make it something people *want* to spend the $$$ on.

      People already want to. People want to see concerts so bad that they have no problem giving ticketmaster about 15 dollars for the priveledge of selling them a ticket with a face value of 40. For really popular concerts its not uncommon for people to pay hundreds of dollars for a single ticket. But you might say, concerts != albums. No, they don't, but it does say that there is money that people are willing to pay for music. I hate repeating myself, but I will.

      Give us our money's worth you fuckers! For the price of a CD I _expect_ good album art, lyrics, the content in multiple digital formats. At least. And btw, those oldies that people are downloading and collecting in droves should be about 5 dollars. A music recording is just that, its not a press for money. There is no excuse for a Beatles album to cost 12 to 20 bucks. 1/2 of them are dead, and I don't feel like contributing to Michael Jackson's child molestation defense fund. I gave at the office. (For those that don't know MJ owns I think 1/2 of the beatles rights, he used to have 100%).

      Music is a part of the human experience. It is something that defines us as a culture and has been ever since sticks were 1st beat on something and it made a sound. People want it, and will pay for it. People don't care or necessarily want musicians and execs in the music industry to make 7 and 8 figures a year.
  • The Copy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mgcsinc (681597) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:20PM (#7669705)
    "And it only takes one stolen copy to be on the Internet. The way we expressed it to them was: You only have to pick one lock to open every door." I really like this idea, and I think it needs highlighting. The simple truth is that music companies, so stuck to their physical medium, seem to have been, for so long, under the impression that mp3's are much like pieces of physical media; they're copied once, that copy goes somewhere, and then its all over, as if this "copying" thing requires some kind of physical action that each user must complete, much like Xeroxing paper.
    • Re:The Copy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by danrees (557289) <dan@@@dwrees...co...uk> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:23PM (#7669741) Homepage
      Exactly. The record companies need to see the added value that people experience by having the physical CD. Just because people can copy CDs, it doesn't mean they will. The same is true of DVDs.
      • Re:The Copy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ooby (729259) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:37PM (#7669892)
        not for nothing, I think having the CD is, to some degree, added value itself. There's the cover art and the insert booklet. Granted, much of this stuff can be found online. But I when I buy merchandise from the band, it's like I'm saying, "Hey, I like your band. Keep making good music." It's somewhat of an investment. Like my hybrid car, I'm not just buying it because it is efficient; I'm also buying it to contribute to a cleaner car of the future.
        • by TechStuff.ca (588157) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:50PM (#7670842) Homepage
          But I when I buy merchandise from the band, it's like I'm saying,
          "Hey, I like your band. Keep making good music."
          Is there a word for people I wish good things for? If so, it's probably German.

          We all have a mental list of talented and creative people we wish success to -- singers or bands we think should be recognized, actors we'd like to see in a series or a leading role, authors whose books we eagerly recommend to others and sometimes buy extra copies just to give away. I've given people money to support hopeless film projects because I think they're talented, and bought books no one else will ever read because I want the writer to keep writing.

          We used to have formal systems for patronage, which provided financial support and promotion to individuals with talent or potential. What modern systems have taken the place of patronage? Are they better or worse at promoting the people "we wish success to"?

          How can technology be used to promote people 'worthy' of patronage? We have various forms of word of mouth (e.g. blogrolling, recommended reading lists, etc.) but that doesn't seem like much help when you see cream that isn't rising to the top.

          There should be a word for this.

          McMe
  • DRM (Score:4, Funny)

    by thrillbert (146343) * on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:22PM (#7669730) Homepage
    Steve Jobs to the RIAA: "We asked 10,000 monkeys, and they don't seem to think that protecting diginal music is possible. However, they gave us this encyclopedia to give to you!"

    Yes ladies and gentlement, Steve Jobs does know how to get the answers to the questions that matter the most.

    ---
    The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa.
    • Re:DRM (Score:4, Funny)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:57PM (#7670932)
      Steve Jobs to the RIAA: "We asked 10,000 monkeys, and they don't seem to think that protecting diginal music is possible."

      Shouldn't we all be complaining about how Apple is sending all the jobs overseas to monkeys in Russia and India instead of keeping American monkeys employed?
  • by k.ellsworth (692902) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:25PM (#7669756)
    it's just not posible to protect something from millions of hackers... i remember that XP supossed to be "hacker-proof" with the internet activation system... HACKED before even XP was officially released. The SONY protected audio CD's... with a permanent black marker.... it is a utopia to think that no one will try to break the protection... the harder they try to protect something the more challenging to hackers is breakin it.
  • by RedHatLinux (453603) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:26PM (#7669773) Homepage
    But it should common sense .... sell a product and it sell the product the way the people want you will make a ton of money. Thats how capitalism is suppose to work.
  • by Cyclopedian (163375) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:27PM (#7669775) Journal
    from the if-it-is-not-possible-then-please-drop-your-sharin g-limits-in-itunes dept

    Let's be realistic Pudge, Apple would not have been able to get anything off the ground for the Music Store if it had no sharing limits. As with almost everything these days, a compromise is reached that makes the best sense for both parties (or for one, depending on your viewpoint).

    I know, I know...this is slashdot, where every editor shows their bias on each story. Perhaps I'm asking too much.

    -Cyc

  • Bad analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by meta-monkey (321000) * on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:27PM (#7669779) Journal
    "It's not possible to protect digital content."

    That really isn't that insightful. What he should have said was "people are still going to copy digital content, no matter what you do." Saying that it's not possible to protect digital content is just like saying "it's not possible to protect your home." You can put a lock on the door, but a burglar can break the window. You can put up an alarm, he can cut the power or something. You can create an armored bunker, but if the burglar's got a tank, it's not really going to matter.
    • Re:Bad analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kaltkalt (620110) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:34PM (#7669863)
      I think what he was referring to was the analog gap. If my ears can hear it, and/or if my eyes can see it, i can copy it and stick it on the net. Your analogy to a house actually sums up the point. If there is an inside to the house, there is always a way to get in there.
    • by ahfoo (223186) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:53PM (#7670103) Journal
      Many probably recall the guy who put his I-tunes track on E-bay and will remember that it was cancelled because of an E-Bay policy, not an I-tunes policy.
      This is a very important issue here because it blurs the line between Right of First Sale and Fair Use. While it's unlikely that right of First Sale can be sidestepped, how is it going to be possible to convince people who eventually will want to swap their legally purchased products from getting a bit of their money back in a legitimate re-sale. This is a great re-sale market from the buyers perspective because you can be sure the quality is top notch even after many sales. You just have to trust that people won't keep a copy in an open format when they make the sale. I'd say the whole premise is weak.
      And yes, I do know that there are people of the opinion that Right of First Sale cannot apply in digital distribution, but if you look at the arguments that have been presented, the weak link is usually the part where they try to define copy and mangle the technical facts of how digital media is played in various digitial devices. There is no blanket defintion of copy that can cover all cases unless you use a naive definition of terms like RAM. That may convince non-technical people, but under closer scrutiny I've never seen a solid definition that worked across serval commonly available digital music players.
  • by L-s-L69 (700599) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:27PM (#7669781)
    "We have Ph.D.s here who know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content."

    Smart guys. If you can play it, you can copy it. Either someone breaks the copy protection (Jon J) or you plug a digital out into a digital in.

    Trouble is the record companies know this but still keep trying which just makes it harder and more frustrating for the avarage guy/girl who wants to listen to ligit tracks on a mp3 player.

    • by jeffkjo1 (663413) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:45PM (#7670002) Homepage
      Why do the record companies hate this so much?
      Because the underlings have undermined their authority.

      Think all the way back, changes in the recording industry, all the way to Thomas Edison, have resulted because a few people with a lot of money made changes. Magnetic Reel to Vinyl, Vinyl to Cassette, Cassette to CD (With the bastard child DAT in there somewhere), these changes all came about as a result of music industry exectives decreeing it.

      They hate downloading music because they didn't come up with it first. It's superior to their physical distribution mechanisms, but because they didn't think of it; first they tried to crush it, then they tried to crush it again, with insane DRM.

      It takes (I can't believe I'm going to say this, but) normal people like Jobs to put them in their place.

      I think it says alot about the music industry when Steve Jobs becomes the straight man.
      • by Kombat (93720) <kombat@kombat.org> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @03:01PM (#7670985) Homepage
        [Record Companies] hate downloading music because they didn't come up with it first.

        Oh please! Gimmie a break! You're so off the mark, it's not even funny. Record companies don't give a sh*t about such juvenile phallus-metrics like "who invented it first" - they're all about the bottom line. That's all Vivendi, Universal, et. al. care about. They couldn't care less who invented it. They only care whether or not it will increase their profits.

        These mega-corporations didn't get as huge as they are by succumbing to such pitiful "Not-Invented-Here" ego-wars. They chase the money. That's all.
    • by Mr. Neutron (3115) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:46PM (#7670009) Homepage Journal
      There is one way to prevent digital copying. Require that anything that can process a digital media signal (hardware or software) be enclosed in a black box in which the only access to the signal is with a valid decryption key, and the only output is analog. Then you make "reverse engineering" of any such device illegal.

      This, of course, makes Linux illegal. Unless all access to hard drives and similar hardware is enclosed in a closed-source, black-box interface layer. The effective end of open source.

      I'm hoping the electronics industry will never go for it, but considering the recent news about Phoenix ditching BIOS [slashdot.org] in favor of "Trusted Computing," that hope is rapidly fading.

      We need to do something before the right to hack stuff is completely taken away.

    • -- You can have a sample of my DNA when you take it from my cold, dead body. --

      Bug: Place your projectile weapon on the ground.

      Edgar: You can have my gun ...[chsnick]... when you pry it from my cold, dead, fingers.

      Bug: Your proposal is acceptable.

      Edgar: Aaaaaagggghhh! [dies]

      - Men In Black

  • by ericdano (113424) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:28PM (#7669786) Homepage
    The only way to curb illegal downloads/pirating/etc, is to make CDs cheap and easy to get. Like DVDs. If CDs were like 1/2 price, like $8 or less, a lot more people would think about buying them than looking for them on Kazaa or Newsgroups or BitTorrent.

    I personally like the idea of being able to hear a song before I buy it and then just buy the songs I like. That why iTunes is good.

    • by krlynch (158571) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:43PM (#7669972) Homepage

      If CDs were like 1/2 price, like $8 or less, a lot more people would think about buying them

      I doubt that very much ... I suspect that what would be happening at that price point is that people would be saying "If CDs were like 1/2 price, like $4 or less, a lot more people ...."

      People expect something for nothing and have found a way to get just that, and they use the "expense" argument to justify their actions to themselves. The only reason you don't see the same thing happening with DVDs is that most people don't have the bandwidth and diskspace to download movies. Yet. Wait a few years, and then you are going to start hearing "If DVDs were like 1/2 price, like $15 or less, a lot more people ...."

  • by Pastor Emerick (730917) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:28PM (#7669793) Journal
    Apple Computer is the maker of the popular Macintosh line of computers. The real operating system hiding under the newest version of the Macintosh operating system (MacOS X) is called... Darwin! That's right, new Macs are based on Darwinism! While they currently don't advertise this fact to consumers, it is well known among the computer elite, who are mostly Atheists and Pagans. Furthermore, the Darwin OS is released under an "Open Source" license, which is just another name for Communism. They try to hide all of this under a facade of shiny, "lickable" buttons, but the truth has finally come out: Apple Computers promote Godless Darwinism and Communism.

    But is this really such a shock? Lets look for a moment at Apple Computers. Founded by long haired hippies, this company has consistently supported 60's counter-cultural "values". But there are even darker undertones to this company than most are aware of. Consider the name of the company and its logo: an apple with a bite taken out of it. This is clearly a reference to the Fall, when Adam and Eve were tempted with an apple by the serpent. It is now Apple Computers offering us temptation, thereby aligning themselves with the forces of darkness.

    This company is well known for its cult-like following. It isn't much of a stretch to say that it is a cult. Consider co-founder and leader Steve Jobs' constant exhortation through advertising (i.e. mind control) that its followers should "think different". We have to ask ourselves: "think different than whom or what?" The disturbing answer is that they want us to think different than our Christian upbringing, to reject all the values that we have been taught and to heed not the message of the Lord Jesus Christ!

    Given the now obvious anti-Christian and cultish nature of Apple Computers, is it any wonder that they have decided to base their newest operating system on Darwinism? This just reaffirms the position that Darwinism is an inherently anti-Christian philosophy spread through propaganda and subliminal trickery, not a science as its brainwashed followers would have us believe.
  • Advances (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:30PM (#7669815) Homepage Journal
    The remedy is to stop paying advances. The remedy is to go to a gross-revenues deal and tell an artist, "We'll give you twenty cents on every dollar we get, but we're not gonna give you an advance."
    That's fair and swell, but without the advance, what does the artist need the record company for? If he has to self-finance the production, then the artist might as well do everything. He could just deal directly with internet distributors (such as Apple iTunes Music Store), buy some ads, etc.
  • by John Seminal (698722) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:31PM (#7669822) Journal
    The other thing we told the record companies was that if you go to Kazaa to download a song, the experience is not very good. You type in a song name, you don't get back a song -- you get a hundred, on a hundred different computers. You try to download one, and, you know, the person has a slow connection, and it craps out. And after two or three have crapped out, you finally download a song, and four seconds are cut off, because it was encoded by a ten-year-old. By the time you get your song, it's taken fifteen minutes. So that means you can download four an hour. Now some people are willing to do that. But a lot of people aren't.

    What I found, while wanting to sample a song (before I buy the CD), was when you download a song and play it, they have the first ten seconds of the song play normally, then a high pitched sound screeches designed to destroy speakers. I doubt a 10 year old kid is behind that.

    But the good news is that WinMX is not as spammed as Kazaa. Not as many people, but chances are you will not get the mp3's which are clearly designed to destroy speakers.

    • by RatBastard (949) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:21PM (#7670484) Homepage
      And before that it was badly encoded songs at crappy bitrates, every comedy song on the planet labeled as being sung by Weird Al, misslabeled songs, porn soundtracks, etc...

      The simple fact is that the P2P networks are so full of garbage as to make hem not worth the effort. And it's always been like that. Anyone who's tried them out can tell you that.

      With a legal source you dion't really have to worry about the sabotage files, the misnamed files and the crappy encodings. And you can preview anything before you decide to buy it. Every track on iTunes can be previewed.
  • by bmarklein (24314) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:31PM (#7669825)
    Jobs is so intent on trashing the subscription model that he resorts to lies:


    One question to ask these subscription services is how many subscribers they have. Altogether, it's around 50,000. And that's not just for Rhapsody, it's for the old Pressplay and the old Musicmatch. The subscription model of buying music is bankrupt. I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model, and it might not be successful.


    Actual current numbers for the sub services:
    Rhapsody (from Real Networks): 250,000
    MusicNet: 175,000
    Napster (formerly pressplay): 80,000
    MusicMatch MX: 150,000

    Total here is over 600,000. These services tend to run about $10 per month, yielding a total revenue of over $6 million per month across all services. iTunes has sold 20 million songs in 7 months, or less than $3 million in revenue. Profit margins on subscriptions are higher as well.

    I use Rhapsody and it kicks iTunes ass - there's just no comparison, given my listening habits (I'm almost always online). Looks like there are plenty of people who agree with me.

    • Real Crap... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by John Seminal (698722)
      I will never use anything from Real Player, not anything. I had a PC which I purchased from a store (It was a Sony), and it came with real player installed. Whenever I connected to the internet, real player felt compelled to connect to real networks to tell them what I have been doing. I can just imagine what their pay service is like if their free service is so horrible.
      • Re:Real Crap... (Score:4, Informative)

        by bmarklein (24314) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:42PM (#7669963)
        RealPlayer sucks, Real sucks as a company, and their RealOne subscription service is worthless. However Real had nothing to do with the development of Rhapsody. They acquired Listen.com, which developed Rhapsody, earlier this year and (so far) Real hasn't changed anything. I started using Rhapsody back when Listen was an independent company.
    • Total here is over 600,000. These services tend to run about $10 per month, yielding a total revenue of over $6 million per month across all services. iTunes has sold 20 million songs in 7 months, or less than $3 million in revenue. Profit margins on subscriptions are higher as well.

      This is a little apples to oranges (hah hah) and you are strictly comparing song revenue, but repeat after me "Apple is a hardware company. Apple is a hardware company."

      iTunes exists to sell iPods. What's the profit margin

    • by KingNaught (718536) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:47PM (#7670019)
      Yah subscrption services are fine, until you cancel your subscription or the company goes belly up. Then all the music you collected is unaccessable due to retarded DRM. At least with iTunes I can burn a copy of the music I buy, becuase I bought it, instead of renting it though some subscription service.
      • by bmarklein (24314) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:54PM (#7670111)
        Right... and I subscribe NetFlix and when I return the DVD I no longer have it. That doesn't mean that Netflix is worthless.

        For a bunch of technologists, the Slashdot crowd is suprisingly reactionary when it comes to music. Ever consider that the currently model of buying music permanently isn't the be all and end all? For me, paying $10 per month for access to basically all the music I care about is a fantastic, unbelievable deal. I can still buy CDs or even buy tracks on iTunes if I want - but that doesn't negate the value of the subscription service.

  • by deanj (519759) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:32PM (#7669829)

    We have Ph.D.s here who know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content.


    While I don't necessarily believe that they can protect it, I think it's far more interesting that here's yet another group that thinks just because a Ph.D. said something it's gotta be true. Holy crap, when are they going to learn that a Ph.D. doesn't give people complete insight into all things. Hell, most of the time they don't have insight beyond the scope of their own disseration.
    • by BWJones (18351) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:46PM (#7670011) Homepage Journal
      Holy crap, when are they going to learn that a Ph.D. doesn't give people complete insight into all things. Hell, most of the time they don't have insight beyond the scope of their own disseration.

      Ah, but we are taught to work a problem until we have the answer. And I should remind you that the dissertation is only the beginning. Most of us finish the dissertation and then begin work on completely different projects that will set the course for the rest of our careers and the smartest of us will not only be able to discuss problems in great depth within our field, but we will also be able to draw upon broad training in a number of other fields. For instance, my training is in neuroscience, medicine and physiology, but there is also significant background in computer science and image analysis that has allowed our lab to make significant headway in the field of molecular phenotyping using a combination of fields of study including neuroscience, physiology, molecular biology, genetics, computer science and chemistry along with image forensics and analysis.

      There are a great many labs around with incredibly smart individuals in them that would scare the pants off of many of us with their intelligence, so don't sell someone short simply because you don't know what they know.

    • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:00PM (#7670158) Homepage Journal
      A Ph D says to me, "I have been certified to research, analyze, and come up with hypotheses." Sure, the hypothesis can still be wrong. Reasoning can still be biased and flawed. The research could be incomplete or rely on discredited work.

      But it's less likely to be flawed than that of some marketer making guesses somewhere. It's far less likely to be incomplete than some random slashdot post. I trust a Ph D to at least THINK before making a judgment...I am not such an anti-intellectual anarchist snob that I can automatically assume that school is a tool of the system and all doctoral students are mindless sheep. But hey, maybe I just don't read enough Cat and Girl comics.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:32PM (#7669833)
    When we first went to talk to these record companies -- about eighteen months ago -- we said, "None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.s here who know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content."

    Seeing as AAC has already been broken using their own player, I think that point is pretty well proven. It's not possible to protect digital content, if by "protect" you mean preventing copying.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:34PM (#7669856) Homepage
    ...at least he certainly gives that impression. His description of the "Kazaa experience" is the most intelligent thing I've heard a big executive say about Kazaa lately. It almost sounds as if he's tried it himself--or, at the very least, isn't six layers removed from someone who has.

    • by green pizza (159161) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:49PM (#7670839) Homepage
      I've read various Steve Jobs interviews and articles over the years and from what I gather, he tries to stay pretty current with computer and communication technology in general, not just the products his current companies churns out. He installed a T1 to his house around 1990 not only to link his personal computers to the NeXT network, but also to allow him to exlore the Internet with the sort of bandwidth the average user would have sometime in the future. A recent article mentioned he upgraded his connection towards the end of the 90s to something even more insane (I don't recall if it was a T3 or OC3) so he could experiment with video conferencing, file transfers, and other "next generation" Internet usage.

      As far as Kazaa, I'm almost certain he's used it. Jobs is known to have a few PCs sitting around, some for Windows and some for NeXTSTEP/OpenStep.

      It's also been said that Safari (Apple's Konq-based web browser for OS X) was originally a direct demand from Jobs when OmniWeb could no longer render the websites he was visiting.

      There was an interview a couple years ago in which he talked about shopping around for some sort of crazy new hightech washing machine (a year or so before the Maytag Neptune came out).

      Jobs may be an asshole, and he may not be a hardcore analog electrical engineer, but he seems to be quite the techie... a techie with style. NeXT and the Apple of 2003 display this quite well.

      Now if only they would make a brushed aluminum version of the 17" widescreen lcd iMac...
  • heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:37PM (#7669890)
    None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.s here who know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content.

    .. and they were right. It isn't possible to protect digital content.

    I haven't seen one "copy protection" scheme that has actually worked yet and I don't expect to see any in the future either. It's trivial to take the songs off an iPod and people are starting to unravel the DRM on the iTunes music store files - give it time ...

  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:38PM (#7669901)
    I've pretty much given up on iTunes and Napster 2 and the others for the time being. Only rarely do they have a specific song I am looking for. I also don't think they will ever, of course, carry the rare concert recordings that were easy to get on Napster 1.0 in its heyday (the stuff the RIAA can't whine about: they refuse to take our money for it in any way, anywhere).

    If the RIAA wants the legal downloads to flourish, they should get serious about selling the music.
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:38PM (#7669902) Homepage Journal
    No matter how much something is regulated (ie copyright), the laws of supply and demand still operate, albeit partially shaken up during the initial regulatory process.

    When music is hard to get (low supply) and people want it (demand goes up) the price goes up. Look at live music back in the time of Bach or Beethoven. The average person could not afford it -- so only the rich had the best music. The poor had their "opera houses" that were not very safe and did not sound very good.

    When music started to get more accessible (records and then tapes) and cheaper, supply went up, and demand went down, so the price went down.

    As music became popularized through more radio productions and later television productions (MTV, etc), the supply went way up, the demand went way up, so the prices stayed consistent. The record labels charged what people were willing to pay. If the people were not willing to pay $18 for a CD, the prices would have come DOWN (supply up, demand down, prices drop).

    Now we have the Internet. Supply goes up immensely, and demand to pay $18 a CD goes away. Therefore demand has dropped at that price, so the price has basically dropped. Some people pay $18, some people want it for free. Of course the record labels earn "less" per person per song. But the distribution cycle is so different, therefore you have to really look at the supply and demand issues differently.

    If the incentive to produce "good" music goes down (less profit), then "good" music will diminish. As there is less and less "good" music, the supply will go down. Demand for "good" music will go up. People who are taking music for free will have less and less music to take for free. The free market over rides copyright and other bad laws by removing the supply of good music, as the incentive to profit is lost.

    This is what will happen over time. Music production houses will find that they can make more money selling their popular tunes to TV commercials, movies soundtracks, nightclubs, and other places. Those songs will eventually be thrown into the virtual "public domain" of the Internet, but the cost to produce the music will be a function of the price of a movie, the cost to enter a nightclub, or the cost of a shampoo or fragrance or whatever it is that uses the song for its background music in a commercial.

    You can regulate, you can mandate, you can tax. But you can't run from the rules of supply and demand.
  • Apple's IP (Score:4, Funny)

    by BassAkwards (670247) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:43PM (#7669974)
    I mean, Apple has a lot of intellectual property, and we really get upset when people steal our software, too.

    Yeah, you hear that MS? Don't go copying any of Panther's UI or else we'll bring Scully back and settle with you for an undisclosed sum.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:45PM (#7670000) Homepage
    • I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model, and it might not be successful. - Jobs

    Microsoft has been reasonably successful in forcing a subscription model on their customers, in the form of "Software Assurance". So has the cable TV industry. If you have a monopoly, you can do it.

  • by pbooktebo (699003) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:47PM (#7670026)
    This service is right in line with my interests and desires. I am happy to download a few tunes a month for 3 bucks or so, which is exactly what I do. I like browsing, and the "featured artist" music videos are great (Just watched Missey Elliott's "Work it").

    I think that this model is perfect for the vast majority of people.

    There's one hitch that's not often talked about, though. It is that the "share music locally" doesn't work with purchased music. So, the CDs I've bought can be shared on my LAN, but my legally "purchased" music can't (unless I authorize those computers to play my stuff).

    I don't think that this makes any sense from any angle, except a bit of buckling to RIAA et. al. If I can share what I bought on physical media, why can't I share what I bought digitally. Of course, one of the things I most want to share is new tunes I've grabbed, and I don't want to go around authorizing/deauthorizing my colleauges' machines. Hopefully, they'll find a way to enable sharing of ITMS purchases in the future.
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:49PM (#7670048) Journal
    (re: Microsoft's designs on entering the music world)

    "And Apple is in a pretty interesting position. Because, as you may know, almost every song and CD is made on a Mac -- it's recorded on a Mac, it's mixed on a Mac, the artwork's done on a Mac. Almost every artist I've met has an iPod, and most of the music execs now have iPods."

    And this affects what system the music gets played on in what way? Most american homes are made from Canadian lumber, but that doesn't make me more likely to want to become a Canadian. I suppose it's nice self-back-scratching.

    And, of course, most of those top music execs probably got their iPods for free during the negotiations. Heck, if I knew somebody who didn't have a PC or email in 2001, I sure as heck wouldn't try to get them to use a 2 year old Archos jukebox!

    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NerdSlayer (300907)
      "And Apple is in a pretty interesting position. Because, as you may know, almost every song and CD is made on a Mac -- it's recorded on a Mac, it's mixed on a Mac, the artwork's done on a Mac. Almost every artist I've met has an iPod, and most of the music execs now have iPods."

      And this affects what system the music gets played on in what way?


      Let's read the next sentence together, shall we?

      " And one of the reasons Apple was able to do what we have done was because we are perceived by the music industry
  • by macemoneta (154740) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:50PM (#7670059) Homepage
    In the article, Jobs says:

    How about movies? Do you see an iTunes movie store?

    "We don't think that's what people want. A movie takes forever to download -- there's no instant gratification."

    Right now, on a good cable connection, it takes about 30-45 minutes to download a good quality mpeg4 version movie (at 700Kbs). Cable can easily increase its bandwidth over time (not so easy with DSL), so that time interval will be decreasing. As more and more people have access to faster and faster connectivity, Jobs statement will become meaningless (as it already has for the fastest cable users). The quality of the movies will increase as well, to fill the available bandwidth.

    The movie studios should NOT make the same mistakes that the music industry did. They should start offering legitimate good quality legal downloads NOW, before too many people start thinking about movies the way they do mp3s.

    • by Have Blue (616) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:04PM (#7670230) Homepage
      It takes about 10 *seconds* to download a song on broadband on the iTunes store. That's less time than it takes to find the song you wanted in the first place (if you know the song you want and the store has it, it takes a maximum of maybe 30 seconds to go from sitting down at the computer to listening to the newly purchased song).

      30-45 minutes isn't even in the same ballpark. That's longer than it would take me to walk to Blockbuster and get it on DVD. (Not to mention that you'll only get 700K/sec off a swarm system like BitTorrent, so you can't even start playing the unfinished movie like you can with true streaming or VOD.)

      I'm sure legal movie downloads will eventually arrive, but with current technology Steve is correct that there is no instant gratification.
  • Apple Vs. RIAA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amplt1337 (707922) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:50PM (#7670069) Journal
    ...the interesting question that Jobs sidesteps here is, "In a world where music is increasingly downloaded, why do we need the traditional record companies at all?"

    Why not just have Apple (or any online service) provide recording studio time and some advertising?

    Jobs doesn't answer this because there is no answer. He hints at it, by saying that pretty soon the record companies won't be able to offer advances and survive (in which case, they are useless to the artist), but in general the best he can come up with for the record company's purpose is that "they pick winners." Hogwash.
    1. He goes on to say that they lose money because they also pick losers, and
    2. we all know as their audience that winners are not just picked, they are made. I mean, sure, record companies pick some winners -- because by definition, to be a winner you need a major label. They're serving as gatekeepers on the success of equally talented, but unsigned, artists, due to limits on advertising budgets and the disposable income of the music-buying public. What do they do for their artists? Record companies provide an advance, they provide tons of advertising and payola, and they skim off the top. That's it.

    So the key to making iTunes, or any online service, popular with the Napster generation is simply this: guarantee us that the money isn't going to some crap record company, but instead to the artists we appreciate and love (and some to provide expenses and a reasonable profit, maybe 5%, to the new, more effective distribution system). Bottom line. Do that and we'll buy. Until then, screw it.
  • Rip Mix Burn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jaaron (551839) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:52PM (#7670087) Homepage
    On the "Rip, Mix, Burn" campaign, Jobs said:,

    The person who assailed us over it was Michael Eisner. But he didn't have any teenage kids living at home, and he didn't have any teenage kids working at Disney whom he talked to, so he thought "rip" meant "rip off." And when somebody actually clued him in to what it meant, he did apologize.

    You know, that says so much about Disney and their current state of affairs.
  • Conundrum (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Paladin144 (676391) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:52PM (#7670091) Homepage
    Jobs touched on the conundrum (but didn't really explore it) of the modern (or maybe "obsolete") music industry. The artists are getting screwed out their cash, the labels are using clever accounting to make it look like they're losing money and people are "stealing" music over the internet. Are we supposed to feel bad about "stealing" (which is actually copyright infringement) when the artists aren't getting a plugged nickel because the label's have them tied to legally murky 7 album deals?

    I say, support the artists you like any way you can. If you like a bunch of songs on an album, buy it. See them live when they come to your town. But don't shed a tear when the labels cry about their profit margins shrinking from 20% to 15%. I also don't think they're going away anytime soon, precisely because of their massive margins (but I don't know what they really are because they've hidden their profits so well). However, I do think there is hope from a new generation of internet-based labels, like CD Baby [cdbaby.com], who are willing to treat artists fairly (gasp! what a concept!). I'm eager to see how this plays out. I hope Jobs will allow smaller labels (like the one I'd like to start in my bedroom) onto iTunes. This will piss of the majors, but...who gives a fuck about them? They've been screwing over artists and consumers for years. Viva la revolution!

  • by 4lex (648184) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:53PM (#7670108) Homepage Journal

    Ever heard about iRATE? [sourceforge.net]

    Free, legal music downloads [goingware.com]... it's even tuned to your taste! And yes, it does run on linux (and on Windows, and on MacOSX).

    OK, maybe the interface isn't so sexy as iTune's... but it's still worth a try, imho. It worked great for me :)

  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hoggerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:06PM (#7670257) Journal
    David Bowie predicted that, because of the Internet and piracy, copyright is going to be dead in ten years. Do you agree?
    No. If copyright dies, if patents die, if the protection of intellectual property is eroded, then people will stop investing. That hurts everyone. People need to have the incentive so that if they invest and succeed, they can make a fair profit. Bullshit. Look at the Open Source movement.
  • Music contracts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by butane_bob2003 (632007) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:08PM (#7670282) Homepage
    ...Well, who pays for the ones that are the losers?...
    ..The winners pay...


    Hopefully not. I've never signed a contract that would allow the record label to withhold my earnings until they had made a profit on *all* of their artists. There is usually a clause in the contract that allows them to withhold a 15-20% reserve, which they always do. This reserve is meant to be held against *your* sales gross, not the sales of the entire record company. Most smaller labels track all their numbers on a per artist/per release basis. Bigger labels are dealing with much lower profit margins and lots more money up front, so they probably have a completely different way of doing the books. Artists and their managers need to take a better look at their label's contracts. I would not sign anything that would keep me from earning money because the label was doing badly with other artists. If they did withold it, I would expect to get it back once the label was able to pay it.
  • by telstar (236404) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:12PM (#7670349)
    Here we are ... discussing an article that's published in a magazine, and also available online for free ... yet thousands of people still subscribe to "Rolling Stone". Maybe if the music industry could figure out how both worlds could possibly exist ... a free version and a paid version of the exact same content ... they'd be able to survive in the future.
  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @03:08PM (#7671071)
    At one time, the business model was "It costs you a lot of money to duplicate music. It costs us a lot of money, too. But we can do it cheaper per unit." RIAA provided a service that had value to those who paid for that service.


    RIAA doesn't want to provide "value". They want to get paid for doing something which is essentially worthless--the act of copying the song to the media and distributing it to us. Hello, RIAA--we've got that one under control. You're fired; your job has been replaced by a computer.

    As long as RIAA insists on getting something for nothing, there will be no foldouts, posters, 12" full-color art prints, etc.


    I agree that RIAA needs to go back to their old business model. (maybe without the abusive artist contracts). Find something they can produce in quantity for a $3-5 a pop. Something that costs an individual user $20 to produce as a one-off. And charge $10.00 for it.


    But in order to do that, they're going to have to let go of the idea that they can just sit back and let the money roll in.


    Those days are over. Denial is the issue here. RIAA is going to start having to work for their bread. It's going to take a few bloody noses in the financial department for them to realize that.


    Funny thing is--this is exactly the issue that RIAA raises when pointing fingers. "You're stealing. You want something for nothing." Point your finger, RIAA. Now, look at your hand. There's 3 fingers pointing right back at you.

  • Give him credit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inkswamp (233692) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @04:12PM (#7671869)
    Love him or hate him, you have to give Steve Jobs some credit for working in a corporate environment and being willing to talk this plainly. Yes, I see lots and lots of canned market-speak sprinkled throughout the interview, but there are many moments where it's obvious he's just speaking his mind and it's refreshing to hear someone on the technology side of the music controversy willing to call a little bullshit on both sides of the debate. It's good to hear someone talk about the ethics of illegal downloads on one hand, but then, on the other hand, talk about how clueless the recording industry really is about all this. That's exactly the kind of non-dogmatic attitude that's needed here, not someone willing to tow the RIAA's DRM line (like Microsoft), not someone willing to grandstand for all the illegal downloaders out there (like Kazaa.)

  • Re: Music Industry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AliasMoze (623272) on Wednesday December 10, 2003 @12:00AM (#7676921)
    Does the music industry serve to find the 'successes' among the rubbish out there?

    The argument holds up, if we ignore one gigantic, gargantuan, glaring fact: the music industry has a monopoly.

    So, is it that they find, like so many diamonds in the rough, the better acts, or would the more accurate portrayal be that they, being the only means of distribution, exploit the best talent? The monopoly makes the answer impossible to determine, since there is no free market going on in music.

    The same is true of the moral argument around file sharing. People who protect the current system seem to forget that they're protecting an arguably illegal cartel that inarguably price-gouges them. That the music industry has a monopoly and abuses it, again, clouds the whole issue.

    Underneath the clouds, I think the real problem the music industry faces is life without a monopoly. Their abuse of the consumer has caused an alternative means of distribution to crop up that seems impervious to the laws that the industry has, in the past, been able to bend to its will. They had a unique thing - a guarantee of revenue. What a business! But now it's evaporating, and they'll have to actually compete for their food, like the rest of us.

    Jobs probably doesn't have it wrong; he's just politicing. He has to, now that he's in bed with the music guys.

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