Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Imagine There's No Intellectual Property / It's Easy if You Try

WARNING:  Law-related post
So Steve Jobs('s lawyers?) wrote an aw-shucks-folks open letter basically responding to legal attack in Europe that claims Apple's Digital Rights Management (DRM) software locks competitors out of its iTunes service.
He says the status quo is great (Apple's DRM won't play with others). 
He rules out licensing Apple's DRM software (what the lawsuits presumably seek to compel) because then the secrets of the software would come out and it wouldn't work as copy protection anymore as employees of companies less noble and trustworthy than employees of Apple help crack the software.
Or, Jobs says, we could get rid of DRM altogether, and all music would be unprotected, and he says that'd be fine, too.  Fine with him, he means, but he knows the music companies would rather have someone pay for their music.
This is the CEO equivalent of a kid who's told to share his Halloween candy with his younger sibling and responds that he earned that scarce candy and splitting up candy is difficult and reduces incentives to gather candy and besides, the real problem is:  Candy isn't free.  His little brother could have as much candy as he wanted if only society didn't insist that we place legal protections on it.  Share the sweetness, man.
The interesting question in my mind is whether Apple's agreements with the music publishers would even allow Apple to license the DRM software to manufacturers of other music players.  Not that my vast knowledge of European antitrust law tells me whether that would matter legally.  But it might matter that a decision against Apple could mean it loses the right to distribute all the music governed by agreements with the music publishers...

No comments: