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February 7, 2007

Say goodbye to Digital Rights Management?

On Tuesday, Apple Inc. made headlines when its CEO Steve Jobs published an open letter urging the record companies to sell music without the use of Digital Rights Management software. DRM is what locks music purchased legally online, from being used in unauthorized ways. For example, a song bought from the iTunes Store can be played on up to five computers, and unlimited number of iPods, and playlists containing protected songs can be burned up to ten times.

The problem, however, is that songs bought from iTunes cannot be played on competitors digital music players, such as Microsoft's Zune, and songs bought elsewhere do not work with the iPod. That has led to Apple's legal troubles in Europe.

In Jobs letter he gives three scenereos. The first is to keep the current vertically intergreted proprietary system. It does offer competetion, dispite Apple's domminance in the market place with over 70 percent market share. The second is for Apple to license its DRM technology - called FairPlay, to other companies; however that would cause significant headaches to keep ahead of computer hackers. The third option, and one that Apple is apparently standing behind, is to get rid of the protection all together.

The article on MSNBC seems to take the stance that Apple's CEO is just trying to blame the record companies for his legal problems in Europe concerning Norways push for Apple to licence their DRM technology to other companies. However, it is interesting to note that MSNBC has significant ties to Microsoft, the company that had made repeated attempts to gain market share over Apple in the music sector, but has failed.

The New york Times article seems to side with Jobs' assertions. The closing line reads: ``Apple's alternative is the only way we're going to get complete interoperability,'' said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Technologies, a Silicon Valley consulting firm.