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Former Apple engineer describes 'secret war' with opponents of copy protection

Gregg Keizer | Dec. 15, 2014
At antitrust trial, ex-employee says his job was to stymie rivals' attempts to compete with iTunes and the iPod.

"The problem, of course, is that there are many smart people in the world, some with a lot of time on their hands, who love to discover such secrets and publish a way for everyone to get free (and stolen) music," Jobs wrote in the missive.

Two months later, EMI, one of the four major music labels, struck a deal with Apple to sell DRM-free tracks on iTunes; by January 2009, iTunes was selling unprotected tunes from all four labels, as well as thousands of independents.

Schultz speculated that the move was less Apple largess and more one forced on the Cupertino, Calif. company.

"Jobs was astute enough to realize the negative reaction the public had to DRM, and he successfully painted the picture that Apple hated DRM, and that Apple wanted music to be freely shared," Schultz wrote in the 2012 piece. "The music industry finally gave in to Steve Jobs, giving him -- and the consumer -- a victory in the music war on DRM."

But perhaps there was another reason for Apple's reversal.

"Maybe Steve Jobs was really trying to spin a pending decision by the music industry into a public perception victory for Apple," Schultz argued. "The truth was that with the power of its DRM, Apple was locking the majority of music downloads to its devices. The music industry didn't go DRM-free because they hated DRM; they went DRM free because they were fearful of the leverage Apple was gaining with their iTunes + FairPlay + iPod combination."

Under Schultz's scenario, the music industry, between the rock of piracy and the hard place of Apple's dominance, chose what it thought was the "lesser of two evils" to break Apple's monopoly on the digital music business.

Schultz's article can be found on the website (download PDF).

Source: Computerworld


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