Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Steve on DRM

Like the opening sequences of the Outer Limits which starts out -- "There is nothing wrong with your television... We are now controlling the transmission.... We control the Horizontal and the Vertical".

Steve Jobs thoughts on music, deserves some attention. For me this is classic Jobs.

Listening to some of the bloggers out there, i feel people have been a bit disengenious to Steve Jobs. So the reason im adding to the views of Scoble, JP Rangaswami, Bill Thompson (of the British Broadcasting Corporation no less!) is to get some sense of balance to this discussion and present it for what it really means to the industry.

But before i do, lets remind ourselves of that Wayne Gretzky quote that Steve gave us at the MacWorld 2007 Keynote.
"I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been."

That should reveal a lot to us.

- Lets be honest, digital content requires Digital Rights Management (DRM). Whether its music, videos, movies, books, photos. — In an increasingly digital world - we need such a framework, to suggest otherwise is pure folly.

To all the nay-sayers that suggest that we don't need DRM because its restrictive or its anti-libertarian, i ask them what are the alternatives? What do we tell the artists? DO we have a solution for them? Are we going to use an advertising model for music? Seriously. We need to have a better solution before suggesting that DRM sucks.

As long as the DarkNet exists, filesharing and tools like BitTorrent means that this problem will never go away. So we do need DRM to protect Digital Intellectual Property. This is not a question of ethics or morality or fairness, its a question of economics.

- Secondly, the consequence of this digital distribution means that one day record companies wont be selling CD’s. We all know that day will come and when that day arrives -- and Steve Jobs knows it will — we will have no choice but as consumers to pay with DRM.

But that day hasn’t arrived today — nobody wants to cannibilize sales or shrink the PIE. So we obviously live in this uneasy past and future worlds. The past, CD's (non-DRM) and the future, Digital(DRM). -- Steve Jobs knows that and he knows that the record companies know that!

Which is why he said what he said, because he is now the champion of the consumer cause -- fighting the evil-DRM, but at the end of the day, he knows that the record company can ill afford to do without it and so they became the bad guys. Steves' hands are tied he can only do what the record companies tell him.

All these side discussions about well he could release non-DRM stuff on iTunes or licensing the DRM to other companies -- are just side issues. The industry is still immature, its still growing, we are not ready for that debate yet, we need to agree that DRM is right or not, and if it isn't we need a soution for the artists. Figure that out first and frankly i don't think Steve Jobs cares, thats the recording companies problem and they already know the answer.

In the short run, let all these mindless journalists continue to discuss (on SecondLife - duh?) that the world doesn't need DRM and let them re-direct their attention to the European record companies. In the long-run, well, i think we need to go back to that quote from Wayne Gretzky. :)

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