06 February, 2007

Uncle Steve takes a Magical Mystery Sledgehammer to the RIAA Part One: The Wind-up. . .

Today, Steve Jobs posted an open letter on Apple.com basically decrying Digital Rights Managment (DRM). From the column, which is a fascinating read:
Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.
While an unprecedented statement from a CEO in its own right, I believe this is just the opening salvo in a larger move.

Check this out. Lemme drop some pure rampant speculation on y'all:

I think Steve's preparing the playing field for his big move. He's coming out in a big, public, P.R.-friendly way against DRM because he's about to announce that Apple Inc.(or even Steve on a personal level) has bought Apple Corps., and will license the Beatles catalogue exclusively to iTunes, DRM-free. This announcement will possibly come on 20 Feb, at Apple's rumored media event.

I've said this before, and I'll keep saying it until I'm proven otherwise. Given the recent and unprecedented capitulation by Apple Corps. in their lawsuit against Apple Inc., alleged money issues for Paul McCartney stemming from his infamous divorce, and Steve's flaunting Beatles tracks in his iPhone keynote (apparently without recrimination from Apple Corps.), it's within the bounds of rational speculation that something like this could happen.

If Steve Jobs can pull off buying the Beatles' catalogue, and selling it on iTunes DRM-free, it would be a HUGE coup against DRM, and a big ol' slap in the face to the Big Four record companies and the RIAA. It would show them that you can take music that's been available for free in the internet forever, and sell it without having to resort to DRM. It would validate Jobs' original rationale for the iTMS, namely that all else being equal, although illegal downloads will always be there, people will pay for 'decent' quality, stable downloads, and album art. It might also spur them to eliminate DRM from their own music, in order to remain competitive in the digital space.

Again, this is pure speculation, but it makes sense, on the surface. I'd love to hear what others think about this.

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