Apple Still A Big Fan Of DRM Outside Of Music

from the let-me-count-the-ways.. dept

A Skeptical Cynic among our readers points us to a post over on the EFF’s blog about how Apple is still a huge supporter of DRM, despite getting the record labels to dump DRM from music files. This isn’t a huge surprise. In the past we noted that even after Steve Jobs came out against DRM on music files, he was clearly still for it on things like video files — even suggesting business models based on DRM. As the EFF points out, it goes well beyond that, however:

  • 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.

So, while DRM may be dead for music, it’s still quite alive in many different places. Also, the EFF points out that many of these uses of DRM have little to nothing to do with the risk of “piracy” and plenty to do control and limiting how customers can use their products.

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Companies: apple

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Comments on “Apple Still A Big Fan Of DRM Outside Of Music”

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iPod exterminator says:


I loathe iTunes and think its actually very crafty to make it so that if you buy a different brand of player, its a nightmare to add your collection to it (most people arent technical). Drop and drag is the easiest and best way to put your files on a player and I cant see why, except to stop you buying other brands and monopolise the market, Apple cant do this with iPods. Just look at the Archos, a much superior player and its cheapest Archos 5 is cheaper than a 32gb iPod and has double the memory!

The whole iPod and iTunes thing is like buying a DVD player from manufacurer A and then being told you can only buy your movies from manufacurer A’s store.

Ryan Shaw says:

Re: iTunes

I think iPod exterminator’s analogy is pretty good but I would like to expand it. To non technical people, they do not care about file formats and/or DRM, but learning methods of doing actions is important (the application). To me, buying an iPod is more like the decision of Beta vs VHS (or DVD vs Blu-Ray these days). Once one member of a family has an iPod, everyone has to get one to make it easy. And to switch to another mp3 player in the future means a new program and possible moving music!!! (Obviously non technical people want nothing to do with that. I’ve even been asked by people of you switch programs, do you have to re-import your CDs) What I’m saying is technical people talk about file format and restrictions but it really just goes to the front-end and learning curves. Once people are committed to iTunes, they will buy iPods for a very long time….

usmcdvldg says:

Re: Re: iTunes

See, thats the thing, its not just tech savvyness but tech experience and tech awareness. There is NOTHING special about itunes. Its a run of the mill media player. The fact thats its better than microsoft mediaplayer means nothing. EVERYTHING is.
I will give you that the ipod is very well designed from an aesthetics point of view. Beyond that i call it trendy crap. the only way I’d ever use one is if I was out of choices and even then I’d crack the shit out of it.

Andrew says:

>> Drop and drag is the easiest and best way to put your files on a player and I cant see why, except to stop you buying other brands and monopolise the market, Apple cant do this with iPods.

Because it’s unnecessarily complex task that does nothing but detract from the experience of an integrated enviromnet. How does “drag and drop” handle podcast management? Smart playlists?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

how many average people do you know who actually care about that?

most people make their own playlists and its easy to organise your files anyway just like on your pc or mac.

If you do want a program like iTunes to organise your collection, then thats fine too, but my point is you should have the choice and not be forced to use it.

Kyd says:

its about choice

Yes, it is about choice. I chose a solution that works well for me and that meant getting an ipod. If you don’t like using iTunes, then get another player that works well for you. My choice in a music store or player has zero affect on you.

Now, my employer’s choice to only use Word doc files does affect my choice in which software I use.

PaulT (profile) says:

DRM and pricing are what’s putting me off going digital with video content like I have with music. I only made the leap with music when I discovered cheap, DRM-free sites like eMusic (helped no end by an RIAA boycott). Now, while I spend more than I used to on music every month, I feel I get much more for my money.

Contrast that with digital movies through iTunes. I would happily pay £4-5 for a digital movie, DRM free. No more than that because the digital files don’t have the DVD extras, but that’s a reasonable price to me, especially if there’s DRM stopping me from using the file on all my devices.

For example, I had a look at iTunes (UK) a few days ago. The animated movie Batman: Gotham Knight was £10.99. To contrast, a few months ago I bought a DVD boxset containing Gotham Knight (with lots of extras) AND Batman Begins (2 disc special editions) for £9.99! So, a file containing the movie and nothing else that stops me from playing it on 4/5 of the equipment I own, or a 3 disc set with lots of extra features as well as 2 full movies…? What kind of choice is that? Of course I’m going to ignore iTunes!

If only these people would run these numbers. Offering an inferior product for more money is never going to help. What’s sad is that the freedom and pricing of iTunes were the major things that helped it take off, apart from the ease of use of course (99c for a track compared to several dollars for a CD single? Sold!). They need to find a way to offer people the same with movies. Even competitive pricing would help people swallow the DRM, but charging more than a DVD? Ridiculous.

Hallie Miles says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, this is definitely a problem.

I bought a WD TV HD Media Player last month that plays video from a USB harddrive, but it won’t play protected files. I have a couple of 720p files that I’d downloaded a while back, and they look really good on my plasma set (hi-def picture and DD/DTS sound,) so I figured I’d see what was available to buy. I’ve Googled every keyword I can think of, but lo and behold, I can’t find ANYPLACE that sells DRM-free video.

I keep reading that the future of entertainment software is supposed to be online downloads. I’m willing to pay a fair price to get a consistent quality product and to keep things legal, but if I can’t find anyone willing to sell me something I can use it seems as if my only recourse is Bit Torrents.

Any retailers want to step up and make a few bucks?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Apple DRM

If I want to put an app on my iPhone from a source other than the App Store, why can’t I? Mac OS X has DRM in that it can’t run on any other hardware without being able to perform that little handshake and that little handshake serves no purpose other than to ensure its on approved hardware. That *is* DRM.

They have definitely embraced DRM. There’s no question about it. Its just a matter of how the Apple crowd tries to justify it.

His Shadow says:

They have definitely embraced DRM. There’s no question about it. Its just a matter of how the Apple crowd tries to justify it.

Justifiy it? It’s the business model. Don’t want fast, easy one click downloads from a centralised secure site? Don’t buy an iPhone. Go back to the inconsistent garbage and unsupported hacks that were the hallmark of the WinMo or Palm days. Or settle for almost no apps on Rim phones or Symbian.

You can all rant and rave and whine and bitch about Apple all you want. But the iPhone is a massive hit and the App Store will have more applications and more downloads of said applications than any other mobile platform or PDA. And why? Because after the laundry lists of features and imagined “flexibility” that geek types are always carping about, the simple fact of the matter is that Apple has developed a platform and an integrated support system that provides a user experience that is second to none. And the imagined harm of Apple’s integration is just that: imagined.

Apple scored a huge victory for users by getting the labels to ditch DRM. But what, exactly, is the point is throwing their phone wide open to whatever shit anyone wants to put on it? None. Some home brew nerds need to develop crappy apps for the iPhone isn’t beat by Apples need to make the iPhone one of the most dependable platforms on the planet.

RB says:

Re: Re:

Good points. Let’s not forget that Archos, Zune, Creative and others have not always been Mac friendly. Uploading content those on a Mac was at one time nearly impossible without some hack. Enter the age of iPod…

Now that Apple has gone DRM-free on music, movies/video have a DRM that is enforced upon not only Apple but any service that downloads or streams movies/videos. A prime example is Netflix requiring the lasted version of Flash on Windows and Silverlight on Macs.

People want to whine and bitch about Apple being unfair but they are not the primary villain in the DRM game. Don’t point your fingers at Apple for playing by the rules, take a look at who owns the intellectual property.

klasseng says:

Freedom is dead, long live freedom

Every organized system has rules. Rules help define the system and help people interact with the system. There are some (eg anarchists) that will rail against any rules.

Apple created a system that helps many people manage their music, videos, contacts, calendars, phones, ipods. The system has rules that help define how that management works. Don’t like the rules? Don’t buy the system!

I don’t like DRM either . . . glad to see it gone from the music sphere. I don’t like it in the video sphere either. So I don’t buy DRM’d video material. It’s pretty trivial to stay away from / work around it and it doesn’t cramp my viewing of video on my iPhone either.

R says:

DRM Sucks

This is why I absolutely detest Apple. BTW, if you or a relative is unlucky enough to have an iPod, you don’t need to get iTunes as well (and all the stupid crap that gets installed with it. e.g. Bonjour, Safari (posing as an update)). One program I know of for Linux is GtkPod, and there are plenty of results on google:
That said, I have an iRiver Clix. It’s an awesome little thing which is completely open, supports MSC, MTP, ogg vorbis, DivX, Xvid, etc. Plus it has an AMOLED screen which is far nicer than the iPod’s. Its obsolete now, but I highly recommend iRiver to others.

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