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Apple is DRM's Biggest Backer 400

Posted by Zonk
from the set-my-mp3s-free dept.
parvenu74 writes "Arstechnica is running an article pointing out that while some pockets of the entertainment industry are experimenting with DRM-free distribution, Apple Inc, which announced that they have now sold over 2,000,000,000 songs on iTunes, is now the strongest pro-DRM force in digial media. From the article: 'DRM is dying. It's a statement being echoed with increasing frequency around the Web over the last few weeks, and is perhaps best articulated in this Billboard article. But there's a powerful force standing in the way of this DRM-free panacea, and it might not be the one you expect: Apple, Inc.'"
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Apple is DRM's Biggest Backer

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:35AM (#17572872)
    I know Mac OS X is an excellent system. I enjoyed using their earlier systems in the 1980s and 1990s. But since the advent of the iPod and iTunes, I have refused to buy anything from Apple just because of their support of DRM. I don't need my rights "managed", especially by a corporation.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:53AM (#17573116)
      Bingo. Same here. And Apple phone also will never be found in my place ever. Just for this reason (and several others, like vendor lock-in).

      Apple is just like M$ - however the fanbois want to distort that.

      Now mod this down. And lets see how long the parent also stays at 0.
    • by slughead (592713) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:59AM (#17573232) Homepage Journal
      But since the advent of the iPod and iTunes, I have refused to buy anything from Apple just because of their support of DRM. I don't need my rights "managed", especially by a corporation.

      I'm a mac user and I don't have any DRM'd files on my hard drive except iTMS TV shows. I have 80GB of music, all Mp3. Apple's mp3 encoder works really well, too.

      DRM is only there if you want it there. It's not some dirty little secret like it is with the subscription services.

      Most people are aware by now of the limitations they face with iTMS files, and yet it's the 4th biggest source of music worldwide (first for downloads).

      DVDs can't be ripped with any software you can purchase, does that mean you don't buy or rent them? DRM isn't intrinsically bad, especially when you can just avoid buying DRM products.
      • by zootm (850416)

        I agree with most of what you write; the same thing applies to people refusing Vista because it contains DRM. It's not like one is forced to use the technology in any way. I do have a little problem with this bit though:

        DRM is only there if you want it there. It's not some dirty little secret like it is with the subscription services.

        DRM isn't any more of a "dirty secret" in subscription services than it is in iTMS, I'm afraid. In both cases, the restrictions are clear (arguably they're more clear in th

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Technician (215283)
          The bottom line is that Apple, Microsoft, et al may be shipping insidious DRM technologies, but there's no obligation to use them.

          You must have missed the chapter on the internet regarding cable TV, PVR, and Windows Media Player 11 on Vista and Windows Media Player 8 on Windows 2K.

          Hint, one of them simply displays the words Protected Content instead of recording and playing back the movie.

          Both tests were done on the same movie.

          It's no longer an option.

          I'm too lazy to look up the link of the review, but a se
    • by Nitage (1010087) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:01AM (#17573278)
      Don't forget that Apple have made no attempt to disable the 'Burn to CD then reimport' workaround. It seems as if they're paying lip-service to DRM in order to satisfy record companies, whilst making no attempt to implement a secure system.
      • by OECD (639690) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:31AM (#17573766) Journal

        Don't forget that Apple have made no attempt to disable the 'Burn to CD then reimport' workaround

        True, but there's no equivalent for DVDs, unfortunately. That's why I buy tunes on iTMS but not vids.

      • by nmx (63250)

        Don't forget that Apple have made no attempt to disable the 'Burn to CD then reimport' workaround.

        Yes, but it would be impossible to disable it unless you disabled burning and importing CDs. Sure, iTunes could refuse to burn DRMed tunes, but if your sound card can play it, any other application can pick it up and record it. As to importing, once the tunes are on the CD, it's just an audio CD with no traces of DRM, so there'd be no way to prevent reimporting it anyway. So I wouldn't say Apple is doing so

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rising_hope (900951)
      You must not buy from Microsoft either... Windows Product Activation is DRM for the OS. And, in Vista, they make it more annoying that the product keys get checked every 30 days or every time the OS receives an update. MUCH more bullish than Apple. The only strong alternative is Linux...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076)
      I have refused to buy anything from Apple just because of their support of DRM. I don't need my rights "managed", especially by a corporation.

      Funny. I have OS X, iTunes, and an iPod without a single bit of DRM on it.

      Could it be that the only DRM that apple has is from their iTMS (iTunes Music Store) which I avoid like the plague.

      Fairplay DRM isn't about protecting intellectual property as it is a vendor lock in to Apple products, but you can still own Apple products without DRM.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The only DRM you'll find is in purchases from iTunes, and they have to have that for record companies to play along. It's the fairest, most liberal DRM out there, and if you don't want it on your system, just don't buy from iTunes.

      I've never gotten people like you who act like OS X is ridden with DRM the way Vista is. You don't have to deal with DRM whatsoever on a Mac if you don't want to.
      • by LunaticTippy (872397) on Friday January 12, 2007 @11:29AM (#17574852)
        You've missed the point of TFA. There is a movement towards unencumbered mp3s in the digital music sales world and apple itunes store is the strongest force against this. Why are you talking about how the DRM is liberal? Why are you talking about Vista? Why are you talking about not needing DRM on a Mac?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sosigenes (950988)
        "The only DRM you'll find is in purchases from iTunes, and they have to have that for record companies to play along. It's the fairest, most liberal DRM out there, and if you don't want it on your system, just don't buy from iTunes."

        I keep on seeing quotes such as this, and can't help but wonder if I'm failing to see something. Microsoft licenses their DRM so that DRM protected windows media files can be played in different players, different portable devices and other devices, wheras with Apple, you're pre
  • yes and No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peragrin (659227) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:36AM (#17572880)
    Yes Apple is DRM's biggest backer, then again Apple's DRM is the only DRm that is constant among all songs. Windows DRM can change per player, musician, studio, or even CD. If you have to have DRM then Apple's is certainly better than anyone else's.

    Now the only thing better would be no DRM at all. I can't see that happening as long the RIAA exists. How else could they afford to pay to make more Britney's, and Spice Girls?

    Till then I will boycott music from non independent sources.
    • Re:yes and No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HappySqurriel (1010623) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:42AM (#17572962)
      At the same time Apple hasn't (so far) hasn't prevented their customers from putting music that has no DRM onto their iPod so I would question whether they really are DRM's biggest backer; they could have easily said that you could only put licenced music on the iPod that was purchased through iTunes in order to protect the 'rights' of artists, but they didn't.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MrHanky (141717)
        Then again, refusing to play straight mp3 songs is a recipe for failure in the mp3 player business. I was going to point out that none of Apples competitors did this either, but then I had a vague memory of Sony trying something like it a few years ago, when they still pushed ATRAC. I guess Ars Technica forgot about Sony since everything they touch turns to shit these days. Apple is the most successful backer of DRM, not the worst. I imagine that also makes them the biggest, but that doesn't make them the m
    • Yes Yes Yes (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rolfwind (528248)
      I love Apple Notebooks and products because of their elegance but DRM has the advantage of locking you in. Apple's songs can be transferred to CD and other players once that iPod gets old but that is not so easy for Joe Average, better to get another iPod.

      Apple put in DRM to reassure the music companies, but now it is working to their advantage. The music companies are probably regretting mandating DRM now because Apple is such a strong force in music because of this, that they can strongarm the RIAA into
    • by thegameiam (671961) <thegameiam@NospAm.yahoo.com> on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:46AM (#17573016) Homepage
      Apple is pretty friendly to independent music sources, as well - CDBaby [cdbaby.com] has a deal where for a small fee they'll perform digital distribution, and I've noticed that iTMS is the overwhelming source of all of the digital purchases of my band's stuff.

      Their payout rates to artists are as good or better than other services, as I discussed elsewhere [livejournal.com].

      So while no-DRM would be ideal, Apple's approach isn't unfriendly to indie musicians.
    • by Itchyeyes (908311) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:00AM (#17573258) Homepage
      I've always imagined that Apple's reluctance to open their iPod/iTunes environment up to third parties will eventually be the iPod's undoing. At the moment, consumer electronics are a mess. Everything is proprietary and nothing works together, much the same way PC's were back in the early 80's. It's only in these kinds of situations that Apple's closed culture really thrives.

      Eventually, though, someone is going to get it when it comes to consumer electronics, much the same way Microsoft did with PC's. People like to give Microsoft a lot of crap about how they run their business, but forget the they did a lot of the legwork for making the PC a standardized environment.

      Once the digital media market has matured, I imagine we'll look back on the days of the iPod much the same way we look back on the early days of Apple. Meanwhile, Apple will have moved on to another market segment and continue to do what they do best, innovate within a small, closed environment.
    • Today, Apple's DRM may not feel so restrictive but it's an illusion. You can end run the DRM by burning a CD and reencoding the music with a minimal loss of quality. Apple has even reached out to be the new gatekeeper of massive sales for musicians. Compared to the analog past, it's not such a huge loss. Compared to the digital future, it's a travesty. Even people from the analog past can gripe about being required to buy a branded music player because they are used to things just working from any ha

  • How about Apple TV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rvw (755107) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:38AM (#17572916)
    I read that Apple TV works without DRM, well the DVI signal to the TV/monitor is not encrypted. How does that fit into this picture?
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:00AM (#17573248) Homepage
      AppleTV has DRM support... from the specs..

      "Video formats supported: H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store)"

      No mpeg2, divx or anything else... so it's clear they don't want you using videos from anywhere else. Pure h264 videos are rather hard to get at the moment.

      It really wouldn't suprise me if the DVI was HDCP enabled - in fact the content providers will probably insist.

      • '' No mpeg2, divx or anything else... so it's clear they don't want you using videos from anywhere else. Pure h264 videos are rather hard to get at the moment. ''

        DVD + Mac The Ripper + Handbrake.
      • by diamondsw (685967)
        Of course, H.264 is the format the iPod uses, and the preferred (only? I don't follow it, so I don't know) format for the PSP. It's also entirely possible that they'll perform on-the-fly transcoding in Quicktime, although given how long H.264 encoding takes, I'll admit this is doubtful.

        Just another reason to get a real Mac Mini and use that instead of an iTV. Then you get a nice home server and the possibility of DVR functionality with the right add-ons.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by noidentity (188756)
      "I read that Apple TV works without DRM, well the DVI signal to the TV/monitor is not encrypted. How does that fit into this picture?"

      DRM doesn't affect image scaling at all.
  • by Cylix (55374) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:38AM (#17572924) Homepage Journal
    Apple DRM isn't exactly the strongest brand of DRM Goodness(tm).

    I'm fairly certain everyone else is aware of that little secret too.

    Be it the little known loop hole of secretly burning off your music and re-ripping it into your favorite codec or the more nefarious path known as fair play.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lazerf4rt (969888)

      Yea, really. There are two types of people who download from iTunes:

      1. People who want to listen on their PC, their iPod, or a burned CD. They do that. No problem.
      2. Nerdier, less scrupulous people who want to shuttle those downloads to other PCs, and need to bypass the DRM. Those people use MyTunes, hymn, dBpowerAMP or something. Or if they're less nerdy (or it's 2001), they burn a CD and rip it. No problem. Any geek knows there is no DRM solution good enough to stop those people anyway.

      DRM is just a way

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ChrisWong (17493)
      The burn-to-CD-and-rerip workaround is not really a scalable workaround. For any significant music collection, you want to organize by the ubiquitous artist/album/track metadata. But you don't get that when you rip from a homebrew CD: all the CDDB tagging that we take for granted from commercial CDs won't be available. So you will have to enter them yourself: artist, album, track, for every single track that you rip. Either that, or live with a "Misc" folder of 672 files with informative names like "file000
    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:44AM (#17574018) Journal
      Apple DRM isn't exactly the strongest brand of DRM Goodness(tm).

      It's still bad enough to be onerous. For example, I replaced someone's motherboard and reinstalled their operating system for them. This person had purchased iTunes songs several years ago. She still likes the songs, but hasn't dealt with apple for quite some time. So by now she doesn't know her login, or even what email address she used to log in. The result is that she cannot access her legally purchased iTunes songs.

      She used to have the songs, now she doesn't. Apple has stolen from her in a way that is much more concrete than if she had "stolen" those songs through P2P.

      Be it the little known loop hole of secretly burning off your music and re-ripping it into your favorite codec or the more nefarious path known as fair play.

      It's hardly a useful loophole if it requires a physical CD (at $.25 a pop) and subjects it to a round of lossy transcoding. I can download FLACs from any pirate site and point oggenc at them and get nice quality oggs with all the tags seamlessly applied to the new oggs. Until I can do that with iTunes it's simply not an option.
  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:39AM (#17572928) Journal
    On what planet did the writers come from? Apple is and has always been a company of control freaks. Not to say that every aspect of such behavior is bad, but it's often not good either.

    (1) They control what hardware their OS will run on
    (2) They often tried (though not recently) to control what OS(es) will run on their hardware
    (3) They tried to control who/what could put songs on their iPods
    (4) They are trying to control what software can be Applied to their iPhones

    They are all about control, and I would be more surprised if they weren't in the top 5 biggest DRM supports since they deal in music, than that they are the biggest DRM supporter.

    • You don't get it. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:51AM (#17573074) Homepage Journal
      "(1) They control what hardware their OS will run on"

      No, they control the software need to run the hardware they build.
      Apple is a hardware company, always have been.

      "(2) They often tried (though not recently) to control what OS(es) will run on their hardware"

      No, they never helped some write software for there hardware, but they never tried to stop anyone either.

      "(3) They tried to control who/what could put songs on their iPods"

      No. They came out with a way to get music onto a hardware device they made. They have done nothing to stop the myriad of other software that can also be used to content onto the iPod.

      "(4) They are trying to control what software can be Applied to their iPhones"

      This has yet to be seen. I suspect this is an issue with American carriers, if itis true.

      Apple doesn't really care what you do with the hardware you purchase.

      • Apple doesn't really care what you do with the hardware you purchase.

        To a certain extent, if you do something non sanctioned and then expect support then they do care. But yeah you're right.

        Apple isn't wholly a hardware or software company - that's looking at their business in PC terms. They are an "experience" company, i would have said computer but they seemed to have dropped that. OSX is a value-add and integral part of the product they offer; they aren't in the same business as say Dell.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dave420 (699308)

        Apple are NOT a hardware company. They're an "experience" company. They package together hardware and software, and through the wonder of synergy, sell a box that does a lot, for a price that is a lot. That's what apple does. It's not about hardware OR software.

        Because they sell experiences, they have to control what goes on as much as a marketing agency controls what goes on in adverts - and for the same reason - brand protection. They need to ooze the feeling that you're getting so much more with Ap

        • by diamondsw (685967)
          Yes, we get that. However, from a revenue and business perspective, hardware is what pays the bills, so from that perspective, they most certainly are a hardware company. This is inevitably brought up when people try to argue for running Mac OS X on generic PC's.
      • "(1) They control what hardware their OS will run on" No, they control the software need to run the hardware they build. Apple is a hardware company, always have been.
        Apple's EULA eplicitly makes it illegal to run their OS on anything other than Apple hardware. I fail to see what kind of distinction you are trying to make here. They clearly seek to control what hardware can be used with their OS.
      • (1) They control what hardware their OS will run on"

        No, they control the software need to run the hardware they build.
        Apple is a hardware company, always have been.

        Does Apple have to change their name to "Apple Digital Entertainment" before you people will realize that Apple is not a computer hardware company anymore. One would think that the change to "Apple, Inc." would give people a clue, but apparently not.

        The original poster's statement is accurate. OS X has the capability of running on hardware othe

    • by p0tat03 (985078)

      (1) They control what hardware their OS will run on

      Of course they do. As another poster mentioned, Apple is a hardware company - I see nothing evil or abusive about ensuring that OSX only runs on Apple hardware. It is also crucial to their reputation as a company that OSX only runs on supported hardware - Apple has seen the gigantic can of worms that MS opened by allowing OEM hardware on Windows. They want their system to be stable and speedy, without legacy HW support bloating, and controlling your har

  • not likely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:40AM (#17572934)
    the article is short-sighted. apple supports DRM because they have to in order to be granted the right to sell media from various studios. apple is a hardware company, and their hardware works just fine with non-DRM'ed media. the itunes music store embeds DRM because it has to. at no point is apple diametrically opposed to the destruction of DRM; it's not a mutually exclusive relationship in the least. in fact, if media were easier to obtain, a valid argument could be made that apple would benefit- if media were free, people would potentially be more interested in obtaining media hardware [from apple].
    • Re:not likely (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Steve525 (236741) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:05AM (#17573342)
      apple supports DRM because they have to in order to be granted the right to sell media from various studios.

      I have no doubt that Apple wouldn't have been able to start the iTunes store without including DRM to make the media companies happy. However, DRM now very much works to Apple's advantage. There's a great synergy between the iTunes store and the iPod. Some of this exsists simply because they are nice products that are designed to work together. However, DRM enforces this synergy because the iPod is the only music player that songs purchased from iTunes (easily) play on. So, once you buy songs from the iTunes store, you are stuck with the iPod as your portable player of choice, unless you want to go through the trouble of burning and re-ripping your files (or breaking the DRM some other way).

      As long as iTunes is on top, Apple has no interest in getting rid of DRM. If another store with their own type of incapatible DRM becomes very successful, then you'll suddenly see Apple screaming about abolishing DRM. (This is probably the crux of TFA which I haven't had a chance to read, yet).
  • But the laziest DRM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shirizaki (994008) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:40AM (#17572944)
    Apple's DRM doesn't wonderously restrict files. You can still burn them and rerip them.


    YES! We know there's a small reduction in quality.


    Even though they have DRM, they aren't doing it totally for the RIAA. They have a business model that kind of works: .99 for a song, do almost what you want with it. They mostly have DRM so they can segway that iPod purchase into some iTunes purchases, and they can only offer that type of DRM. That is why the French fought to try and force Apple to disclose their DRM method. Apple is doing it more for a business model rather than legality according to distributing music. So it's going to be a tougher fight for them to either disclose their DRM method or to be totally non-DRM.

    In reality, it's still the record labels that are in the biggest way of DRM and their legal rabbit the RIAA. The recent russian site that closed did send royalty checks to RIAA, but they never cashed them.

    Systems are in place, but it's the industry that holds it back.
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Apple's DRM doesn't wonderously restrict files. You can still burn them and rerip them.

      Seems more like a loophole to me, a workaround if you please. Rather than a permitted 'right' (is this against the DMCA?).

      YES! We know there's a small reduction in quality.

      Which is enough to not make me not want to buy it in the first place.

      They have a business model that kind of works: .99 for a song, do almost what you want with it

      No.. I read their agreements some time ago, you certainly can't even mix the music into

    • by Tx (96709) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:54AM (#17573146) Journal
      They mostly have DRM so they can segway that iPod purchase into some iTunes purchases

      I was going to correct your spelling (segue), but actually considering the very low percentage of songs on most peoples iPods that are actually bought from iTunes, I think you've coined a useful and appropriate new verb.

      v. segway - to segway: to vastly underperform based on high initial expectations
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tbone1 (309237)
        v. segway - to segway: to vastly underperform based on high initial expectations

        You should add: "syn. Vista, Zune, Danica"

  • there will be no need for anti-piracy efforts.
    Allofmp3 showed the path, is the riaa going to take the red pill or the blue pill?
    My personal price range is 25 cents a song.
  • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:44AM (#17572986) Homepage Journal
    Apple has an agreement to DRM the music in order to carry it.

    Steve Jobs said:" "None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.'s here, that know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content."

    It seems to me when DRM goes,Apple isn't going to try and stop it.

    No I don't own any macs.
  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:45AM (#17573002) Homepage
    Apple may be "pushing" DRM, but according to what I've read, it's mainly because they couldn't get the publishers to agree to a DRM-free model. To get access to the music catalogs, they had to be able to say they had a scheme for preventing iTunes from turning into (the old) Napster. The DRM model that they use is pretty much the weakest model you can have and still cal it DRM--you can burn any song or songs to CD and the protection scheme is weak enough that it's been repeatedly broken by people interested in "unprotecting" the files.

    I know there are a number of purists (and anti-Apple types) who argue that any and all DRM is bad. But in my opinion, Apple's weak DRM scheme hasn't stopped the imaginary DRM-free world these folks are advocating--it has actually helped by prevented something much more onerous from becoming the de facto standard.

    Can you imagine a world where the most successful music download service provides music in Microsoft's WMF and you can't burn a CD or copy the song to more than one PC? My hope is that the success of the weak-DRM'd iTunes store will discourage people from "renting" music or subscribing to some scheme where the DRM is significantly more restrictive.
  • well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by El Lobo (994537) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:45AM (#17573004)
    Fanbois, moderate me down again, I don't fucking care. Apple has always been about control. They control hardware, software, and don't tolerate rivals.

    But a feud between Apple and RealNetworks over music downloads is exposing Jobs' tragic flaw. Amazingly, he seems to be making the same devastating mistakes with the iPod that he made with the Mac 20 years ago.

    The iPod has half the digital music player market, and iTunes sells 70% of all legitimate music downloads. Jobs practically willed the digital music business into being.

    But around 1985, Jobs and his executives decided not to license Apple's technology or operating system to any other company. Apple wanted total control. It wanted to sell all the products itself. It wanted no competitors.

    This was a yawning opening for Microsoft, Intel and the PC. Since anyone could buy the licenses and components to make a Windows-based PC, that technology took wing.

    "Apple could have reaped the benefits of having dozens, even hundreds of imitators all adding their own unique value to the Mac," wrote Jim Carlton in his 1997 book, Apple: The Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania, and Business Blunders. "Legions of suppliers would have sprung up all around the world to furnish components such as disk drives and memory. And since the software was light-years ahead of everybody else's, the Mac's, not Windows, might have come to dominate the personal computer market."

    Instead, the opposite happened for Apple, and the PC crowd took advantage of those kinds of economics. This year, Apple is left with less than 4% of the market for personal computers -- basically a cult following.

    More recently, Jobs has done for digital music what he once did for personal computing: He's made it appealing to non-techies. Once again, his design sets the pace. No device is as good as the iPod; no software solution works better than iTunes.

    But like the Mac of 1985, it's a closed system. Other than open-source MP3 files, only music downloaded through iTunes will play on iPods, and iTunes music won't play on any portable device except an iPod. Apple refuses to license the technology to third parties. Instead of setting a standard for all, Apple wants to own it all. When Microsoft behaves that way, everybody screams antitrust.

    So how comes that as a surprise that they are the major users of DMR technlology?

    • by geekoid (135745)
      The fact that they made it trivial to take the music you purchase, and convert it to a format that can beplay pretty much anywhere proves your wrong.

      Steve Jobs has DRM because the industry insisted. He told them it won't work, he knows it doesn't work, but he has to have something to sell music.

      Jobs didn't want his hardware cikkuted, and from a technical standpoint(as opposed to market) he was right. Look how diluted, crapy, and bloated the PC is.

      It seems he did learn a lesson, and is being a lot more caref
  • Get it right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by catwh0re (540371) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:47AM (#17573024)
    Some DRM = Can be good for consumers, e.g. It satisfies crazy music execs while giving average consumers DRM which they will rarely/if ever notice at all.

    Restrictive DRM = Bad for consumers. Draconian style restrictions that stop the average consumer from doing ordinary things with their music.

    Apple's music is unrestrictive DRM (2 Billion songs worth) you can even burn it to a Audio CD removing the DRM entirely.

    We're not talking about zunes that let you share a song which expires after a few plays or a few days (which ever comes first.) Or windows media devices that require regular docking otherwise the music will cease to function. We're talking about the ability to legally download music and literally give it to any of 5 computer users. Or burn copies and spread them infinitely. Some kids use maybe two of their 5 licenses on other computers in the house, the rest usually go to their friends. (Legal or not, it still lets you.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GWBasic (900357)

      We're not talking about zunes that let you share a song which expires after a few plays or a few days (which ever comes first.) Or windows media devices that require regular docking otherwise the music will cease to function. We're talking about the ability to legally download music and literally give it to any of 5 computer users. Or burn copies and spread them infinitely. Some kids use maybe two of their 5 licenses on other computers in the house, the rest usually go to their friends. (Legal or not, it st

  • by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:48AM (#17573028)
    The fact that Apple is the #1 'DRM purveyor' is just a function of the fact that they are the #1 music download service. DRM was a condition absolutely insisted upon by the big record labels. You can argue as to whether or not DRM would have any kind of foothold as it does today were it not for iTMS, and its a valid argument. In the end, this too shall pass; you can't change physics and the old model must pass away eventually. (Kicking and screaming, as it turns out.)
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)
      DRM was a condition absolutely insisted upon by the big record labels.
      And my condition for buying content is that there is no DRM on it. So they're not getting sales from me, even if they are "the #1 music download service".
    • I don't like DRM, but Apple's is one of the least restrictive (at least to me). If I purchase music from the iTunes store I can play it on my iPod, I can play it on my hi-fi (via airport express) and I can burn it to a CD. There's not a lot else that I want to do with it, so I'm fairly happy. Though I still prefer buying music on CD and ripping it.
  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:48AM (#17573030)
    You can live in a DRM free world today. Your participation in the existing paradigm is voluntary. Is there anything stopping you today from producing your own hit movie and releasing it without DRM?

    If you don't like DRM then become a DRM-free producer. You'll be a more effective leader by walking that walk than you will by being a harping critic who takes no action.
    • Is there anything stopping you today from producing your own hit movie and releasing it without DRM?

      You mean besides not having millions of dollars to spend to produce and distribute that hit movie? Well, not having the talent to do so. But other than that...

      Of course, to you a "hit movie" is probably something that's gotten more than 100 views on youtube. Those of us more grounded in reality might have a different definition of "hit".
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      You can live in a DRM free world today. Your participation in the existing paradigm is voluntary. Is there anything stopping you today from producing your own hit movie and releasing it without DRM?

      Lack of money.

      If you don't like DRM then become a DRM-free producer.

      Or... You could just not buy DRMed stuff.

      I used to buy DVDs (some from the States, some more local in Europe), then I discovered I couldn't play some because of some badly made DRM. I haven't bought DVDs in years since.

      I'm not interested in worka

    • by noewun (591275)

      Is there anything stopping you today from producing your own hit movie and releasing it without DRM?

      Other than having $1,000,000 (almost nothing in Hollywood terms) and no access to the distribution stream needed to get a movie into theatres? Not at all. . .

      I'm not actually disagreeing with you, only pointing out what I see as a fallacy in your argument. Making the actual movie, assuming one has money, talent and time, is not actually the hard part. The hard part is getting the movie into theatres aroun

      • The system for delivering movies is not closed. You simply have to make it available for download from your own website.
  • DRM is not evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thumper_SVX (239525) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:48AM (#17573032) Homepage
    DRM is not inherently evil, but often implementations are troublesome or onerous.

    I probably sound like an Apple apologist here, but to be honest I have no problem with the relatively weak DRM included on iTMS songs or movies. They don't prevent me from watching, they don't prevent me from copying (within reason) and I really believe that the DRM inherent in iTMS and by extension iTunes is not a problem.

    OK, some people may have a huge problem with DRM philosophically. I must admit, I am not over the moon about the whole idea either but the DRM world is one that we are going to live in whether we like it or not. If we have to accept DRM, then it shouldn't be overly onerous. I think that Apple's implementations are as "consumer-friendly" as you're likely to find. They don't prevent me from using my purchased media, and I don't get the feeling that Apple can "turn off my music" at whim just becuase I changed my registered card number at iTMS. Besides, it's simple to work around with even lossless conversions. I know, I've converted stuff in the past... but generally my purchased iTMS music remains "DRM encumbered" and I have no problems sharing it with my wife's computer or my daughter's iPod as well as my own iPod. The only reason I sometimes convert said music is so I can put a copy on my MythTV box so I can have it when I want to play music on that.

    All of course IMO.
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)
      They don't prevent me from watching
      I use Linux as my main desktop OS. Enough said.
      • I use Linux as my main desktop OS. Enough said.

        So did I until 6 months ago. Part of the reason I changed? Because I accept the fact that we're going to live in a DRM world. There's nothing stopping someone from writing a DRM playback client for Linux using (gasp, shock, horror) a binary playback module developed by Apple. The purists who hate the idea of binary-only code in Linux are the ones who are going to kill it as a desktop. The average user doesn't give a monkeys, they just want to play back their media. You may point out that Apple hasn't produ

        • by Ash-Fox (726320)

          So did I until 6 months ago. Part of the reason I changed?

          I'm not changing.

          Because I accept the fact that we're going to live in a DRM world.

          DRM is not a big enough issue to me to switch OS.

          There's nothing stopping someone from writing a DRM playback client for Linux using (gasp, shock, horror) a binary playback module developed by Apple

          I'm not really hoping either. I'm not too fond of the idea that someone can just invalidate my collection on a whim.

          The purists who hate the idea of binary-only code in Linu

          • Well, OK... another reason I switched is because I just wanted to have a Mac... and just get my work done :)

            Your arguments are all valid... and I agree with you. Good philosophy. Sorry, I wasn't trying to "tar you with the brush" of being a Linux zealot... I was making a general comment. That probably didn't come out well in my verbage, though :)

            I wasn't aware of the petition. Thing about petitions though is that they're only effective if they're bought to the attention of those who can make decisions... so
      • by tbone1 (309237)

        They don't prevent me from watching

        I use Linux as my main desktop OS. Enough said.

        Enough said, indeed. You made the choice of using Linux; I can't imagine how it could be considered a de facto standard in computing purchases. As part of that choice, you also chose not to use iTunes, Microsoft Office, and a lot of other software that is not available to the platform. Just as I did when I chose OS X.

        So, if anyone is preventing you from watching, it's you. But that's okay: it's your choice and your ri

  • Yes, BUT... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by headLITE (171240) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:48AM (#17573038)
    So Apple is the biggest backer of DRM. But then, the DRM I get when I buy songs on iTunes still gives me more choice than the DRM that comes with some CDs these days. And it won't install root kits either. So maybe Apple's just the biggest backer because they're the only large company that uses a kind of DRM people don't mind to being subject to.
  • by manonthemoon (537690) on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:49AM (#17573046) Homepage
    But it is also the entity responsible for the oncoming demise of DRM on digital music- or at least the non-FairPlay, non-Watermark variety. Why is Microsoft suddenly the biggest cheerleader for non-DRMed music? Because their obtuse and nasty version of DRM got flattened in the marketplace.

    All the other DRM formats can't compete and so they are going to the labels and applying their utmost pressure to be able to release DRM free. The labels are listening because the alternative is ceding utter control of their future digital distribution to Apple.

    Watermarking will end up being their common friend. The RIAA gets someone to sue and the online music stores get a format that plays on the iPod. I'm not sure watermarking gives me the warm fuzzies (in fact the whole idea gives me the willies), but it is the likely way for this to play out.
    • Some people have even wondered whether Microsoft released a restrictive and unpleasant DRM in order to demonstrate to the music industry that DRM is bad for business. Make your own minds up about this.
  • by falcon5768 (629591) <[Falcon5768] [at] [comcast.net]> on Friday January 12, 2007 @09:52AM (#17573100) Journal
    It takes the stance that if iTunes didnt have DRM, people would jump ship from using the iTunes/iPod combo... totally forgetting the fact that for a good year or two the iPod was a good seller without the iTunes Music Store EVEN EXISTING and that iTunes still works with other MP3 players out there, you just cant use restricted music on it. Worse never once does it mention the fact that people might be using the combo simply cause it works, only that they use it because they have to which anyone on slashdot and even anyone who goes to a site like iPod Lounge could show you is completely false, there are plenty of other ways to get music on a iPod.

    This article nor the second one is infact not well written at all, a good article would not make such huge leaps of faith saying the market is one way, when there is plenty of evidence that exists now (such as the fact that much of the music on iPods comes from CD rips, NOT iTunes Music Store) that proves its not even that way today.


  • Apple is well respected for design and, well, just for being a cool brand, but no one has ever associated Apple and openness. Apple is THE closed, proprietary, system. Being the big backer of DRM is completely consistent for them so I'm not sure why the summary suggests that we should be surprised.
  • Consequences. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThePhilips (752041) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:01AM (#17573274) Homepage Journal

    First they argued to labels that the liberal DRM is needed - or consumers will not buy songs. Now the coin flipped and Apple wants DRM themselves since it is one of the reasons why people buy iPods - so they can use well-integrated iTMS.

    Well, it is business as usual: they have made some sacrifices in past (like $0.70 label fee on every song sold) but now they just want to maintain the position iPod has gained in market.

    If Apple resorts to such tactics, we may conclude that end of iPod's rein in market is looming. And Apple is feeling that: otherwise they wouldn't have resorted to such low tactics.

  • I looked at iTunes but their prices are way too high - basically the same as buying a CD at Amazon.com - and the DRM restrictions were just enough to make me want to stay away.

    I've been very happy with emusic.com [emusic.com], which offers a growing catalog of music, prices that are about 1/3 of Apple's, and completely unrestricted MP3 files.

    Sure you won't find top 40 dreck at emusic.com, but if your tastes are the least bit adventurous there's a lot of great music at reasonable prices.

    Bill Evans, Thelonius Monk, Lucind
  • As the article points out, Apple is neither pro-DRM or anti-DRM. I think FairPlay is just a means to an end for Apple: Apple wanted more sales of their iPods. One way to do it is to make it easy for individuals to purchase music online. If Apple wanted online music distribution, Apple had to work with the music distributors and develop a system that they would permit. FairPlay was/is a compromise. The DRM is restrictive enough not to allow wholesale piracy but not so restrictive as to trample over fai

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)
      The DRM is restrictive enough not to allow wholesale piracy but not so restrictive as to trample over fair rights.
      I'm sorry, things like the DMCA say otherwise.
  • by massysett (910130) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:06AM (#17573364) Homepage
    The headline and summary state that "Apple is DRM's Biggest Backer" as though this is fact, so I was disappointed to see that the link is just to an opinion piece--I was expecting a smoking gun, like Jobs saying "DRM is wonderful; DRM forever."

    I'll set forth my own opinion: Apple gains nothing from DRM. Apple makes its money selling hardware, like iPods and Macs. Nobody credible believes that Apple is making much, if any, money from the iTunes music store. Instead, it seems the iTMS exists for the convenience of Apple's customers--that is, so Apple can sell more iPods.

    Therefore, in economic terms, music is the complement to the iPod: the more music that's out there, the more iPods Apple sells. It's in Apple's interest to ensure there is as much digital music out there as possible. DRM in the iTMS is merely a means to an end, in that it makes it possible for Apple to sell downloads in an easy-to-use, legal product. I don't mean that DRM makes it *technically* possible, because of course Apple could sell DRM free MP3s. It makes it possible from a *business* perspective, as the labels would cry bloody murder if Apple sold DRM free MP3s in its easy-to-use store.

    Because the DRM exists ultimately for the convenience of Apple's customers--that is, so they can download music from an easy-to-use store--Apple doesn't care about the DRM. They just want the music to be easily available in an easy-to-use store (P2P services are not nearly as usable as the iTMS.) Prices at the iTMS are relatively high, considering what ALLOFMP3 is selling music for. But Apple isn't making much money here. Apple would be better off without the DRM, if it could get away with that, and with cheap prices--remember, the more music that's out there, the more iPods Apple sells. More music also would drive appetites for bigger capacity iPods, thus driving sales for newer models.

    I think the evidence shows that Apple realizes that DRM benefits it little and that DRM hinders its customers, thus ultimately reducing the sales of iPods. Apple does not license its DRM scheme to other players. I think part of the reason for that is because Apple realizes that it would not benefit from having an industry standard DRM scheme. Such a scheme would keep music prices high, which would mean that customers would have less money to spend on iPods and less music to put on them.

    Also, look at the weakness of the iTunes DRM. Burn to a CD, rip it back. It's a well-known hole. Apple has done nothing to close it (unlike Microsoft, which has attempted to implement digital watermark schemes) because Apple doesn't want the DRM to be a hassle. They only have the DRM to placate the labels, and the DRM works well enough for this purpose. This hole is a hassle for customers, though. I think Apple would prefer no DRM at all.

    I realized all this when I heard of the lawsuits of people complaining that the iPod is not interoperable. That's absurdity. The iPod plays MP3, the most universal music format there is. The iPod is interoperable with any store that sells MP3s. It's not Apple's fault that the other music stores (except the brilliant ALLOFMP3, along with other players like Magnatune and eMusic) are selling music encumbered with Windows DRM. If Apple were truly interested in locking people in with DRM, then Apple would make their music players play ONLY Apple DRM-locked files.

    TFA says "The lock-in afforded by FairPlay creates an Apple ecosystem that essentially ties the iPod to iTunes and to Apple, at least for commercial transactions." That's equally absurd. There is an ecosystem between iPod and iTunes, making them easy to use together. That certainly benefits Apple. However, FairPlay is not creating the lock-in. The majority of music in most people's iTunes collections are ripped from CDs or are downloaded through means other than the iTMS. If Apple sold unencumbered MP3s in its store, then there would still be an easy-to-use Apple ecosystem. The purpose of the ecosystem is to sell more iPods, not to lock people in to a DRM scheme.
    • by Steve525 (236741)
      Apple's success in this area, so far, has been due to making nice products that people want. That's absolutetly true, and Apple would be just as successful right now, even if iTunes had no DRM.

      But looking to the future, Apple's DRM very much works to their advantage. For instance...

      Let's say you are Microsoft or Creative and you want to sell a portable player to compete with the iPod. What? Your player won't (easily) play all the music everyone's bought on iTunes? You're SOL.

      Let's say you are Amazon o
  • Apple is not a backer of DRM. Apple has DRM in iTunes because there would be no iTunes without it. It is there to keep Big Music happy and content. As soon as it becomes possible (and it will, the way DRM seems to be wilting away), Apple will drop DRM from the music it sells. But never, ever could they have made the music industry to give their goods for sale on iTunes if there had been no DRM. That's just an ugly fact.
  • Nonsense! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joshsnow (551754) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:17AM (#17573498) Journal
    I'm not even going to RTFM. Apple sells 2 billion DRM'd songs, ergo, Apple must be the biggest road block to removing DRM from electronically distributed goods? That's nonsense. It wouldn't be nonsense if Apple owned rights to what they're selling, but they don't - they're just the distributors. The DRM is a condition of being able to distribute. Take Apple out of the equation and you'll see what the RIAA really want - which is price differentiation (latest pop "hits" cost more than old stuff), music "rentals" (you never own what you buy) and a big slice of the revenue from every device sold for use to play or perform the digital content.

    So far as I know, the DRM stops casual copying but is easily circumvented. It seems like a pragmatic solution to me and if people want to see real DRM, bring on the Microsofts, and Napsters of this world!
  • by Budenny (888916) on Friday January 12, 2007 @10:42AM (#17573980)
    People need to get real about Apple. Much of this thread just consists of saying that when Apple does it, it doesn't count. It does count. Apple is the leading exponent in our industry of the customer lockin. Now, this makes things uncomfortable for the devotees, who realize that lockins and DRM are decidedly uncool and ethically very dubious, and associated with the arch enemy MS. So they spend a lot of their time in intellectual contortions trying to deny that Apple is what it is. It is a bit like trying to argue that the former Soviet Union was really very free and democratic. Same sort of silly contortions and denials. Facts:

    1) OSX is not open source. Its as proprietary as Windows.

    2) You still cannot buy a retail copy of OSX that will run on your shiny old MacIntel. You only get to buy either an upgrade or a retail pack for PPC. Can you think of any legitimate reason for this other than lockin?

    3) Despite the fact that the MacIntel is a standard enough Intel box, Apple has gone to great lengths to lock OSX to only those Intel boxes that it has blessed with its logo. No technical reason, its pure lockin.

    4) iTunes is a locked system. Yes, you do have to use the Apple software to buy an iTune, and then once you have it, you can't play it on another player without going through contortions and losing quality and maybe violating the DMCA. There is no reason to refuse to license fairplay other than a deliberate effort at consumer lockin.

    5) Jobs did say, to the NY Times, that you won't be able to run your own software on the iPhone. The laugable reason given was to protect you and the cellular network. But it fits with all the rest. Its just about control and lockin. As is the taboo on unlocking it and moving it to another network.

    Add it all together, and its not much different from MS in approach. The details vary, but the approach and the aim are identical. It stinks. What Apple people need to do is stop denying this. Stop justifying it on the grounds that it helps sell Macs. Of course it does, that is the entire point of lockins, to make you buy things you otherwise would not.

    You may all like the fact that the trains run on time, but no, there are no elections and there never will be any. Just accept publicly that lockin is the price you are prepared to pay for your chosen platform and the prosperity of your chosen company. But don't tell the rest of us that black is really white, and there really is no lockin. There is, and it stinks.

    And its not at all cool either.
  • somebody with sense agrees with what I've been saying for years:

    - DRM is a fad

    - Apple loves DRM
  • What I found interesting in this submission is that there seems to be a grudging admission by the record companies (not RIAA) that DRM is now hurting their bottom line. It hasn't hit the motion picture and some book publishing executives yet, but it might in time.

    If anything, the sales figures are proving that RIAA was talking through its hat all along. Yes, I know, obvious to everyone on Slashdot, but sometimes reality has to slap executives around for a few years before the message gets through.

  • This just doesn't make any sense to me at all.

    The only apparent benefit I can see to Apple from DRM would be if Apple somehow used it for prevent iPod owners from getting music anywhere else but the iTunes store. But Apple doesn't do this.

    Why wouldn't Apple be perfectly happy to sell UNprotected AAC's or MP3's through the iTune store if the music publishers would let them? (Heck, it might even reduce the load on their servers, since I believe the FairPlay DRM has to be embedded into the file on-the-fly uniq

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