Thoughts on Music…

Posted on February 7, 2007. Filed under: Apple, Music, Technology |

Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computer, posted a open letter to the music industry today on Apple’s website challenging them to stop insisting that music purchased on the internet be copy protected. The great majority of music stored on iPods, Jobs argued, is unprotected, so removing protection on the three percent that is protected does not represent a big risk for record labels. In fact, argues Jobs, eliminating digital rights management (DRM) from digital music will increase sales and stimulate investment in the development of new devices. And DRM is a losing battle anyway, because there are always people who can crack the copy protection codes.

This is the most self-serving and laughable argument I have ever heard. Perhaps Jobs is correct that iPods contain mostly unprotected music. So what? The sales of digital music over the internet are relatively small now, but they will grow. It’s obvious that people like to buy music this way. I don’t. But a lot of people do. They find it convenient and fun. And eventually, everyone will buy most of their music this way. His next point, that DRM is a losing battle, is unconvincing. It’s like telling a homeowner to remove his burglar alarm because there’s always going to be a thief that can get in. Maybe. But it’s better than nothing.

So it ain’t gonna happen. Now, if it did happen, I’d be the first guy to jump right in. But in the words of Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction: “Let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks just yet.” I’m sorry to tell you that all the pirated music you have on your hard disks and iPods is illegal and probably always will be. Just get over it. Apple has no real risk in the short term if music becomes free. In the medium to long term, it’s hard to see how iTunes could survive the competition from the zillions of sites that would spring up over night if music were free. Who needs iTunes when you can get music from anyplace for nothing?

Jobs’s argument could be applied to his own businesses (or any business really) as well as it could to music. Let’s see…I’ll take twenty copies of OSX, a couple of copies of Aperture (the full version, not that upgrade bullshit), and just because I’m an asshole, I don’t know, um……OK a dozen copies of Final Cut Pro. And, if you don’t mind, I’d like to share them with all my friends on the internet, and, perhaps, for my troubles, make a few zlotys on the side, if you know what I mean. See how that works?

  • Quotes of the Day

    "Writing editorials is like wetting your pants in a blue serge suit. It feels good, but nobody really notices."

    --Jack Germond

    "Famous men and women, by the act of putting themselves on display, whether as politicians, actors, writers, painters, musicians, restaurateurs, or whatever, invite public appraisal. They are all, impressively or pathetically, acting on the presumption that their ideas, their fantasies, their music, their bodies are more original than those of, say, a plumber or a certified public accountant. They are all exercising the impulse, as Mencken put it, ‘to flap their wings in public.’ This is so obvious to the critic–and, I believe, to the ordinary reader or spectator–that it seems hardly worth saying. But resentment of the practice of criticism itself is strong among professional artists (and all Presidents of the United States). There is a psychological type among them that hates critics on principle as parasites or failed performers. This is very natural but surely very childish and, in any country claiming to be civilized, actually anti-social. The existence of critics, good, bad, or indifferent, is a firm clause in the social contract between the governors and the governed in any nation that is not a dictatorship. Public figures should accept with good grace the public response to their invitations to be admired and resist the temptation to retort, except in the face of flagrant malice."

    --Alistair Cooke

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