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Cable/Video

DRM Drama

7:00 AM -- NEW YORK -- The other day, after seeing 3,450 news items and blogs fawn over Steve Jobs's sudden "kill digital rights management" (DRM) revelation, I was thinking (other than, what was he smoking?): "Yeah, but what do people really think?"

Yesterday, I heard the real deal. Here at the Digital Hollywood Media Summit, the keynote panelists opened up the floodgates of Steve Jobs rippage when asked what they thought about his now-infamous DRM essay asking that anti-pirating software be abandoned:

  • "I don't understand what the point was," said Daniel Scheinman, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s Media Solutions Group. "As a company in litigation with them, I find it wildly ironic that a technology company is taking the techno-liberation view: 'Free the stuff from iPod.' "
  • "It's hysterical on many levels," said Jason Hirschhorn, president of Sling Media Inc. Entertainment. "If you are so concerned, then open up FairPlay... The whole thing is ridiculous!"

  • "The statement of 'everything in my walled garden should be freed,' doesn't quite work," said Frank E. Dangeard, chairman & CEO of Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453).

Wow, excellent. That's not your usual watered-down panel. Thanks guys.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

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Lite Rock 12/5/2012 | 3:15:05 PM
re: DRM Drama Anyone that complains about Jobs' message on DRM is either ignorant of the realities of DRM politics, works for one of the big 4 record companies, or is Spinning their own position with intent to manipulate public opinion.

Jobs' position statement is pure spin. The 1st rule of marketing "when spinning, any attention is good attention". What Jobs' and Apple have been most successful at is identifying their target market and marketing to them. No matter how much you hate him, Jobs is a consummate entrepreneur and has brilliantly understood the psychosis that is the Music business.

When Napster was summarily disemboweled by the music industry, Jobs saw the writing on the wall.
The Music Industry's psychosis was a perfect fit for Apple and their propensity for proprietary closed systems.

The brilliance of Jobs' position paper is that he is positioning the Music industry to be the bad guy in the view of the general public. Jobs is the new "Teflon Don" and Apple is the beneficiary now matter which way the industry goes.

That's it. I'm selling my Apple Stock...
noixe 12/5/2012 | 3:15:04 PM
re: DRM Drama


The RIAA has responded to Steve Jobs's now-infamous letter by graciously thanking him for finally agreeing to license their FairPlay DRM algorithm to other sources, thus integrating the marketplace for digital music. The only problem is that the entire point of the letter was to debunk DRM of any form, and to point out the flaws in such a licensing agreement.




While it's fun to think, as they do over at Idolator, that this is just an egregious PR slip, or the RIAA's attempt at irony, in reality this is probably more of a Jedi mind trick. Even if the gaffe gets corrected, the idea will stay in the public's mind: why don't they just license FairPlay? After all, that would pretty much maintain the status quo of (preceived) security, but it would open up iTunes to competition. Which would probably mean lower prices for consumers, but would almost certainly mean less money for Apple. And bang, Steve Jobs is the villian. Sneaky!




Of course, if Jobs's dream of a DRM-free world overcomes the trade group's objections, they can always sick the Feds on him.

noixe 12/5/2012 | 3:15:04 PM
re: DRM Drama test
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:15:03 PM
re: DRM Drama The only problem is that the entire point of the letter was to debunk DRM of any form, and to point out the flaws in such a licensing agreement.

The point of the letter is to extend the exclusivity Apple has on legal distribution of digital music. This requires DRM. The music industry isn't falling for his tactic though joe-q-public will.

The problem for Jobs is that the music industry holds the stronger hand. 90M players and 2B songs downloaded is a drop in the bucket in a world with population greater than 6B. It'll be hard for Jobs to hold back the tide. He couldn't do it in computers and he'll have an even tougher time with gadgets that can play digital music. The music industry can pull their libraries at the drop of a hat and Jobs has nothing but piracy to turn to which isn't a sustainable economic model.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:15:03 PM
re: DRM Drama The brilliance of Jobs' position paper is that he is positioning the Music industry to be the bad guy in the view of the general public.

I agree though I'd word it a little differently. The music industry is already perceived as being the bad guy (for needing DRM to protect copyrights in this transition to a digital age). Jobs is merely pandering to this misguided public opinion of the music industry being the evil ones. Heck, when you can get something for free and it doesn't seem to be hurting anyone then somebody comes up and says you're stealing their stuff, tells you to stop it, the natural response is to make that person into the bad guy.

That's it. I'm selling my Apple Stock...

While I can't predict future stock prices this event has revealed a huge weakness in Apple's long term position. Their days of exclusivity in distribution of digital music may be numbered. The early coke bottlers had franchises which weren't bound by time and that allowed for the wealth creation in soda water to be weighted towards the bottlers. The music industry isn't making the same mistake and has Apple on a yearly leash. It's in the music industry's interest to turn every portable device into a digital music player (including mobile phones) and drive retail price of players down to $29 or less. We've seen this story before with computers where apple, sun, sgi etc. sold overpriced hardware. It didn't last.

The challenge the industry faces is finding an open DRM system that gets adopted and shifts the retail pricing power to the copyright holders. It's in telcos interest, both network providers as well as equipment mfgs, that this happens. It'll be interesting to follow this issue and to see how the individual members of the industry respond.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:15:02 PM
re: DRM Drama Whatever happened to that?

Intel hasn't been competitive in consumer electronic chips so their DRM hasn't been all that relevant to date.

Also the theory of the PC becoming the hub of all media entertainment is probably flawed. Nobody really wants to do this. The model for consumer electronics is device and application specific gadgets. This simplifies the interfaces down to a few buttons and small displays. Look to garmin in GPS and how they subsegment the markets. A garmin devices for cars, devices for boats, devices for small airplanes, devices for jogging, devices for bike riding, etc. That's the better model than selling an expensive platform that promises to solve all problems using expensive and cumbersome software.
tsat 12/5/2012 | 3:15:02 PM
re: DRM Drama
Well over a year ago (2 years ago)? There was much talk about Intel putting DRM at a very low level in their processors. We heard that was one of the main reasons Apple was moving to Intel chips. This was suppose to be the end-all, be-all for DRM of all digital media.

Whatever happened to that?

-tsat
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:15:01 PM
re: DRM Drama Is this DRM thing only about music? How could video be affected? Alright RIAA had their (weird) say. But what is the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) saying about Jobs' DRM ideas. Wait, I'm a reporter! I should ax them. -Mark
noixe 12/5/2012 | 3:15:01 PM
re: DRM Drama
The point of the letter is to extend the exclusivity Apple has on legal distribution of digital music. This requires DRM. The music industry isn't falling for his tactic though joe-q-public will.


are we reading the same letter?

he proposes three "solutions" to the drm problem: maintain the status quo, liscensing fairplay and abolishing DRM. he makes it pretty clear that he favors the last one.

The music industry can pull their libraries at the drop of a hat and Jobs has nothing but piracy to turn to which isn't a sustainable economic model.

except nobody's buying cd's and digital music sales are pretty much the future. if the industry wants to collapse in two years, they might pull out but apple pretty much has them by the balls.
Lite Rock 12/5/2012 | 3:15:01 PM
re: DRM Drama Is this DRM thing only about music? How could video be affected? Alright RIAA had their (weird) say. But what is the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) saying about Jobs' DRM ideas. Wait, I'm a reporter! I should ax them. -Mark

No way! There should only be a bit of lag in the transition from hard media to majority e media for video distribution due to bandwidth/size.

Who would have predicted that the killer apps. would be music & video... Bwaaa :D


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