Steve Jobs has been something of a key player in the ongoing debate about the restrictions and copy-protection placed on digital music files sold through download stores. His opinion on the matter seems to have flip-flopped, and it's hard to argue that the labels' insistence on DRM hasn't helped the iPod in some way. However, in a statement posted on Apple's web site, he's now calling for the big four record labels to drop their insistence on DRM. While he does make some questionable points (denying that any lock-in to the iPod exists, and saying that licensing Apple's FairPlay DRM wouldn't be manageable), his underlying point that DRM simply doesn't work, and does more harm than good certainly is a valid one. He points out that while the labels make such a fuss over restricting digital music, the other 90 percent of songs they sell aren't protected at all (try as they might), so to think that DRM will ever stop piracy is foolish. Jobs also points out that the added cost and complexity DRM brings to the music world holds back the number of companies that can create "innovative new stores and players", and dropping it could lead to an influx of investment and interest in digital music and result in the creation of exciting new devices and services for users -- which, he says, can only be a good thing for the music industry. We've called on people like Jobs and Bill Gates to use their influence to try and make Hollywood and content owners understand how they've got so much more to gain by dropping their insistence on copy protection than they stand to lose from piracy. While this note from Jobs isn't likely to create any instant change, it's a nice first step.
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