Ever since the early days of the Internet and the original Napster MP3 download craze, the issue of digital rights management (DRM) and the security of the intellectual property rights of artists vs the new environment of sharing and collaboration offered by the Internet has been a controversial subject.
For example, I wrote a kind of inflamatory piece in Videography in the year 2000 called “Napster Gets It, Universal Doesn’t” where I called the Universal CEO “Bozo Bronfman” and referenced a classic Flash movie “Napster Bad” which made fun of the band Metallica for being money grubbers.
Bottom line, the bad guys were the record companies, and now (fast forward to 2007), they are among Steve Jobs and Apple’s best friends.
So the latest is that Mr. Jobs, always on the move, and in the face of the huge financial benefits that Apple gains by owning the platform that delivers by far the most “legal” (read digital rights protected) downloads… and in the face of mostly European gripes about Apple’s DRM and its proprietary system (which is not unlike Microsoft’s, Sony’s etc.), Mr. Jobs has now written a lucid web post encouraging record companies to open up their digital rights.
In other words, he’s once again pointing the finger (accurately) at the record companies as the reason that there is a digital rights lock down in the first place; and he’s recommending that the best way forward is for these same record companies to get out of the way, for the benefit of everyone, especially consumers but including the record companies and the tech companies as well.
DailyTech explains in more detail why “Apple’s leader believes that a DRM-free world would be the best one for consumers.”
If you’re interested in this subject (and, frankly, I think that everyone should be), I highly recommend Stanford Law professor and digital rights activist Lawrence Lessig‘s exceptionally well-written, researched and insightful book, Free Culture.
(Addendum: Bronfman responded to Jobs and it still looks like he’s a bozo.)