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Apple Shows Us DRM's True Colors
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Sun, 15 Mar 2009 12:02:14 -0400

From: Monty Solomon <monty () roscom com>
Date: March 14, 2009 12:59:41 PM PDT
Subject: Apple Shows Us DRM's True Colors

Apple Shows Us DRM's True Colors

Commentary by Richard Esguerra
January 7th, 2009

At this week's Macworld Expo, Apple announced that by April, music
from the iTunes Store will no longer be shackled by digital rights
management (DRM). Finally, DRM is good and fully dead for digital
music -- gone from CDs, gone from downloads, and largely dead for

Apple's announcement comes nearly a year after Amazon.com's DRM-free
MP3 deals went live, demonstrating that the record labels were
holding the DRM card until they could wring business concessions from
Apple (in the form of variable pricing). This just underscores that
DRM is not really about stopping piracy, but rather about leverage
over authorized distributors.

In fact, an inventory of Apple's remaining DRM armory makes it
vividly clear that DRM (backed by the DMCA) is almost always about
eliminating legitimate competition, hobbling interoperability, and
creating de facto technology monopolies:

* Apple uses DRM to lock iPhones to AT&T and Apple's iTunes App Store;

* Apple uses DRM to prevent recent iPods from syncing with software
other than iTunes (Apple claims it violates the DMCA to reverse
engineer the hashing mechanism);

* Apple claims that it uses DRM to prevent OS X from loading on
generic Intel machines;

* Apple's new Macbooks feature DRM-laden video ports that only
output certain content to "approved" displays;.

* Apple requires iPod accessory vendors to use a licensed
"authentication chip" in order to make accessories to access certain
features on newer iPods and iPhones;

* The iTunes Store will still lock down movies and TV programs with
FairPlay DRM;

* Audiobook files purchased through the iTunes Store will still be
crippled by Audible's DRM restrictions.

The majority of these DRM efforts do not have even an arguable
relation to "piracy." And even where things like movies and
audiobooks are concerned, DRM is not only futile, but will likely be
counter-productive, making the "legitimate" alternative less
attractive than the Darknet options.

This week's announcement is another step in the meltdown of DRM for
music. But it is also a stark reminder that Apple remains at the
forefront of employing DRM to shove competitors to the fringes and
wrest control out of the hands of users.
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