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RIAA to Apple: License FairPlay
Thursday, February 8th, 2007 at 9:20 AM - by
The Recording Industry Association of America isn't exactly pleased with the open letter from Apple CEO Steve Jobs denouncing digital rights management. Instead of removing copy protection from digital music downloads, as Mr. Jobs suggests, the RIAA is calling for Apple to open its FairPlay DRM to competitors, according to Forbes.
In the open letter posted on the Apple Inc. Web site, Mr. Jobs called DRM copy protection ineffectual, and said that Apple wraps songs sold at the iTunes Store with its FairPlay copy protection only to meet contractual obligations with the recording labels. He also claimed that Apple would remove its DRM in a "heartbeat" if it could.
RIAA chairman and chief executive, Mitch Bainwol, feels that Apple should instead open its FairPlay DRM to competitors so that all music services and media players could be compatible. "We have no doubt that a technology company as sophisticated and smart as Apple could work with the music community to make that happen," he said.
Other companies, including Napster and Microsoft, have a vested interest in seeing DRM stick around. Without it, there would be no way to manage music subscription services, and Microsoft's Zune wouldn't be able to embed self-destruct code into songs when they are "squirted" to other players.
Apple, however, has no interest in sharing its copy protection scheme. Mr. Jobs said that it would be extremely difficult to keep people from hacking the scheme if technical details were made available to any company that wanted it. Sharing FairPlay would make it less effective, and extremely difficult to coordinate update efforts between software and hardware manufacturers.
In the end, Apple's comments and the RIAA's response may amount to nothing more than posturing. So far, there is no indication that Apple will license or drop FairPlay, and the RIAA doesn't seem to be in a position yet to direct the future of digital rights management.
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