Apple's the latest firm to realise that DRM is A Bad Thingâ„¢, as Steve Jobs urges the entertainment industry to give up on the restrictive software which nonetheless isn't capable of doing the job it's supposed to. We always suspected he felt this way but, currently, songs downloaded via the iTunes platform can only be played on Apple devices, and lately the firm has come under pressure to 'fix' this.
DRM was introduced in digital media as a way, for example, to control how many times a downloaded song can be played or on which players it can be opened. Encryption methods within DRM software are 'cracked' very quickly rendering the whole affair somewhat useless: meanwhile, unrestrictive pirate MP3s with no DRM are seen as the most attractive and most useful digital music, paid for or not.
Jobs recognised that "the abolition of copy protection software known as digital rights management (DRM) would be good for consumers and music suppliers," and that "copyright protection had failed to tackle piracy": notions that the consumer community and industry analysts have been screaming for years.
"This is clearly the best alternative for consumers and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat," said he in a very thoughtful speech on Apple's website.
Most potentially entertaining is that Microsoft is in firm favour of DRM, so if Apple went down the open music route Apple's iPod would crush Microsoft's Zune for sure… not that it really needs any help doing so.
Perhaps the industry will take notice and start giving customers what they want, but I'm not holding my breath.