Space Ramblings

Steve Jobs Anti-DRM Crusader – Bwaa Haa

Despite Steve Jobs’ recent anti-DRM manifesto, few of the media executives gathered for the LexisNexis/Variety DRM conference in Beverly Hills this week had much patience for the image of Jobs as an anti-DRM caped crusader. Jack Lacy, who works with the Coral Consortium on a specification for interoperable DRM schemes, summed it up best when he told Ars, “Steve Jobs can complain about it all he wants to, but at the same time, he’s done a lot for DRM.”

Steven Page, lead singer and guitarist for the Barenaked Ladies, said that Jobs’ manifesto should be taken “with a grain of salt,” and that the Black-Turtlenecked One “doesn’t care one way or the other” so long as he keeps moving iPods.

Exactly. Steve Jobs pushed DRM. ITunes pushed DRM on indie music producers WHO DID NOT WANT IT. Apple’s goal was to make their music non-interoperable with the competition. When attempts were made to force Apple to comply, Steve Jobs threw a gigantic hissy fit and then suddenly reinvented himself as a crusader against DRM.

Lacy’s group has reason to be frustrated. Though they represent plenty of music labels, film studios, and technology companies, getting Apple to come to the table has been an exercise in frustration. And without support from Apple, any interoperable DRM initiative is likely to go just as far as the go-kart I once built in my garage from wagon and tricycle parts

Apple doesn’t want interoperable DRM. It might hand out some DRM free music to build goodwill with consumers, but if DRM has to go, then Steve Jobs vastly prefers a situation in which its competitors are stuck with bad DRM, while Apple picks and chooses, playing both Anti-DRM crusaders while maintaining its monopoly and passing the buck to the music industry.

The general feeling in the room, one that was expressed several times during the two-day event, was that Jobs’ manifesto was as much a result of European pressure as of an aversion to DRM. Several speakers pointed out that the document appeared just as interoperability pressures grew greater in Norway and as France prepared its own system for requiring interoperability.

Bingo. Steve-O felt the heat and ran to reinvent Apple as the company fighting to give consumers free music and the apple fanboys and the media fell for it hook, line and sinker. The reality is that Steve Jobs will protect his ITunesIPod monopoly no matter what and everything he does is intended to serve precisely that sovereign purpose.

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