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Digital Music Competitors See Eye to Eye on DRM

16 Feb, 2007 By: Jessica Wolf

The head of Yahoo Music, Dave Goldberg, is siding with competitor Apple's Steve Jobs in the debate over digital rights management on downloaded music files.

In an interview with the Silicon Valley Watcher today, Yahoo Music president Goldberg said he agrees with the Jobs' no-DRM missive heard round the Web last week.

“I've long advocated removing DRM on music because there is already a lot of music available without DRM, and it just makes things complicated for the user,” Goldberg told the tech publication.

Goldberg added that music without DRM has sold better than DRM-included in trials Yahoo Music has done in the past. And Goldberg was also quoted as saying the Microsoft DRM included on the Yahoo Music site “doesn't work half the time.”

Goldberg was responding to an open letter Apple's Steve Jobs posted on his company's corporate Web site that called into question whether record-label-instituted DRM is even effective at curbing piracy.

Steve Jobs is stirring the pot with an open letter on the Apple corporate web site, suggesting that record labels should release digital music with no copy protection rather than Apple sharing its own FairPlay system and opening up the iPod universe to digital music purchases outside the iTunes store.

“Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music,” Jobs wrote. No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.”

A DRM-free world would create interoperability for downloaded music. Plenty of indie acts and smaller players in the music market already release digital tracks free of any restrictive DRM.

However, Apple adds its own FairPlay DRM system to any downloads it sells through the iTunes store. In order for Jobs free-play world to exist, Apple would eventually have to give up its protective closed system, which courts outside the United States are already mandating the company do.

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