First let me say that your iTunes/iPod success is unprecedented and awe
inspiring to me. Your impact on digital music is astounding. I read
letter to the
music industry and wanted to respond. It's great seeing the #1 DRM
the world acknowledging that DRM is an issue. I've been talking about
since I founded MP3.com
so it's nice to
finally have someone with your prominence raising awareness on this
topic (read You
Nothing - the highest rated blog post I've ever written).
I want to challenge you to take actions to bolster your words to ensure
genuine and your letter wasn't simply a deflection shield to escape
scrutiny. In your letter you stated that currently "customers are being
served with a continuing stream of innovative products and a wide
choices." The incompatible chaos of digital music today is
serving customers or the music industry particularly well. I
this too which is why you posted your letter calling for change.
your suggestion that the industry is already selling non-DRM files on
it's not a big leap to selling them online (of course, as you know,
files are available online from many unlicensed sources so now
it's just a
question of whether the industry is going to put a price tag and make
money on this behavior). You mentioned that licensing your FairPlay DRM
technology is problematic. Microsoft widely licenses its
and it doesn't seem to be any more or less secure than yours, so I'm
not sure I
agree with you. But instead of focusing on political
posturing I want
on real solutions that can change the industry.
My vision is that customers should be able to mix and match the type of
music software, retail option and music devices they want to use.
company is the
best in every product category so consumer choice ensures the best
music experience. Here are some immediate actions Apple could
take to help push the
Start selling some content in MP3 format in the iTunes store.
It's my understanding that
has a license from certain content providers that
allow tracks to be sold in the MP3 format, like the CDBaby catalog.
major labels might be insisting on DRM files, that isn't the case with
indie labels and other music providers. Making those songs
purchase in the consumer friendly MP3 format would mean that some songs
the iTunes store would be compatible on every MP3 player. The
criticism of the iTunes store, which has spurned possible government
action, is the fact that purchases
only play on iPods. By selling MP3s in the iTunes
store, files become interoperable with any
It will be a minority of files, but according to your letter,
control only 70% of music distributed. Therefore, if
a significant percentage of
remainder are made available in MP3 format, this would have an impact.
Publish the database format for iPods so other music software
Files stored on iPods are
done so in a proprietary database structure that Apple
does not reveal. The only software that can reliably move files to/from
the iPod is
iTunes. Thus, iPod owners are forced to use iTunes software
are many good media managers available that I'm sure people would like
to have work
with their iPods. By publishing the database structure for
iPods these music
managers to interact with iPods. This would not mean licensing
the DRM that wraps
music file, so it should not affect security in any way.
the doors for iTunes software to work seamlessly with other
Today the iTunes software is
tied solely to your iTunes store. These
two platforms converse over the net with a secret language.
but it's also not public. So iTunes customers are tied only
iPods only work seamlessly with that store. There is a
growing list of
online music stores which sell MP3 tracks such as eClassical, Magnatune, Broadjam and Wippit. By
the language or API that your store uses, other stores could use that
same technology. Meaning,
they could sell songs that load directly into iTunes software and from
sync to iPods.
iTunes software for Linux.
I talked to you a few years
ago about making iTunes work on Linux. Apple made
the leap to Microsoft Windows by releasing iTunes for that platform.
iTunes to Linux would be a relatively easy job and give people more
flexibility in their choice of
operating system. A Linux company I founded called Linspire would even do
the engineering for free
if engineering resources were an issue.
I hope you'll consider taking these actions - none of which require
the music industry, nor require you to license your Fairplay
technology that you see as problematic. All of these
that you want a world where consumers have options as to where they buy
and play their
music; not to mention, you'll be
putting Apple's leadership where your pen is.
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