"Eliminating online DRM appears to us to be an overly risky move that eliminates the potential for a future digital-only distribution model free of piracy," Deutsche Bank analyst Doug Mitchelson wrote in research note Wednesday.That's from an AP article on the record labels' response to Steve's call for them to stop requiring copy-protection on internet sales of music.
"As easily as Mr. Jobs lectured the music industry on their DRM policies, he could have lectured the software industry (which includes Apple) for its complete unwillingness to pursue an industrywide DRM standard or make any effort to help music companies in their fight against digital piracy by working to make their media players recognize and not play pirated songs," Mitchelson wrote.
I told myself I was going to stay out of this, since everyone, his dog, and his dog's uncle are writing about Jobs' pseudo-blog post. Also, am I the only one who's a little jealous that Steve's first blog entry gets linked from the front page of Apple.com? Seriously, I suspect he pulled some strings there. My blog's never even gotten linked off Apple's "Hot News" page. (But, hey, I was once Google's Blogger of the Day, so I guess SOME big companies like me.)
Anywho, my point here, and I have one, is that this analyst is clearly an idiot. It's amazing, because he works for this huge bank, and you know he's making, well, bank, but he didn't even bother to read Steve's post.
Steve clearly said that every DRM scheme relies on secrets, which, eventually, someone either leaks or someone reverse-engineers. ALWAYS. There has never been a uncrackable copy-protection scheme, and, in fact, if you think you've invented one, I think some computer science professors would love to talk to you about the halting problem.
So, Doug, your first wrong assumption is this: there is no future of digital distribution that is "free of piracy." Period. If I can actually hear music, with my two ears, then I can copy it. You think going to analog and back is going to discourage pirates? Have you seen the handicam versions of Hollywood movies for sale in China, before they are released here? Also, who is this "us" that thinks the move is overly risky? Do you have a frog in your pocket, as well? (His name better not be Sir Jumpy.)
Ok, but that was just your first sentence, how about your second... oh, wait, you're wrong again. Twice. First, you say Apple should work with the industry to make a single standard, but Steve clearly said he'd be willing to license FairPlay to others, but he can't because of the music industry's terms with Apple that require prompt patching, and because the secrets that make DRM work at all would be broken and/or leaked all more quickly.
Seriously, Doug, you gotta use your noggin a bit. I want you to re-imagine your statement like this: "I think all banks should standardize the master combinations on their vaults, because that would make us all safer." Abitchanalystsezwhat?
But one dumb thing per sentence isn't enough for you, is it? Sure, those analysts who work for Credit Suisse may settle for less, but you're working for a German bank, dammit! So, go ahead, throw in some good old underwear-gnome-style magic, while you're on a roll: Apple should "help music companies in their fight against digital piracy by working to make their media players recognize and not play pirated songs."
Sure, right, you've demonstrated a real expertise in security theory, Doug, why don't you explain exactly how this system would work. I mean, it sounds great on paper — as does stealing underwear — but HOW should iPods detect pirated songs? You don't even have to code this; I just want to hear your theory, here. Broad outline.
I'll help... let's see... "recognize pirated songs"... so, the iPod would have to somehow recognize which songs loaded onto it were copyrighted and which ones weren't... so it'd need access to some giant database somewhere of every song and audiobook protected by the RIAA, so if you loaded a new song onto it, it could compare it to every song every recorded and see if that song is copyrighted or not, right? Ok, ok, this is all very do-able...
But, hmm, the nefarious user's computer may not be connected to the internet when she loads up pirated music onto her iPod, so the iPod itself would have to connect to this huge database — wirelessly, of course, because what pirate is going to willingly plug her iPod into the internet just so it can check up on her? So we need to build wireless transceivers into iPods — no problem, we wanted that anyways — and we need to have them programmed to automatically sign into any network they find. Maybe we should have them satellite-phone based, in case there are no 802.11 networks around? I'm just spitballing, here.
Of course, some of the DRM-free, copyrighted songs on iPods have been legitimately purchased by the iPod owners, and then legally RIPped into MP3s. So, it's not enough to just see if a song has been copyrighted, we also need a database of every tape, record, and CD every person in the world has ever purchased, plus whether or not they've ever sold or given any music away, so we can see if the particular owner of this iPod really has the right to listen to this song.
Nope, no technical hurdles so far.
Maybe I'm being to harsh on you. Maybe what you're saying is that iPods should detect songs that are currently protected by DRM and are loaded onto the iPod in violation of the terms of the DRM's license.
In which case, hey, guess what — iPods already do this. The "RM" part of "DRM," it is. So, don't you look smart for suggesting it.
Look, the computer industry is not holding out on you, OK, Doug? We've been fighting piracy of our wares for thirty-five years, now, and we've lost every round. If you want to be a pirate, you can go online right now and download enabling codes to all your favorite programs (including mine). Why do you think we can do better for the recording industry?
Seriously, why does the press keep calling analysts for quotes? It's pretty clear these chuckleheads don't know the first thing about computer science. Three major errors in two sentences... I feel like the AP could have made up facts and had a better chance at being correct. "The music industry feels that anyone buying an iPod should first give the RIAA some money, because it's pretty clear they are going to pirate music. I mean, just look at them... the way they are dressed... Also, the music industry feels all iPods should be made of candy, so that lime iPods actually taste like delicious limes, and we don't chip our teeth again."
Next time, AP, call me, I'll give you a damn quote. Here, the first one is free: "It's about time record execs pull their heads out of their asses, and, after the giant 'schloORK' sound is done ringing in their ears, they start treating valued customers like they are valued and/or customers, instead of like a seething criminal class. Yes, there will always be people who steal music. So either offer the rest of us a compelling alternative to being one of them, or die the dinosaur's death that you so richly deserve."