Once again Adam Engst, editor of the venerable TidBITS mailing list - one of the longest-running technology mailing lists in operation - has come up with an insightful analysis, this time summarizing the industry response to Steve Job's Thoughts on Music letter where he controversially calls for the end to DRM on music, and the possible implications. While Engst is a Mac user himself (and thus automatically biased?) he accords criticism where criticism is due, and Apple certainly does not escape unscathed. In six points he concisely summarizes the most relevant points of saga up until now, and addresses the question of "Why This Letter, and Why Now?" which includes some unflattering self-serving reasons Jobs might have written it. An excerpt:
"Apple was forced to create and use FairPlay DRM when selling music on the iTunes Store because that was the only way the big music companies would agree to license their music to Apple. However, perhaps due to the music companies not realizing the potential size of the online market, Apple was initially able to negotiate pretty good terms, which accounts for FairPlay-encrypted tracks working on up to five computers and unlimited iPods, enabling burning to audio CDs from the same playlist some number of times, and so on. [...] Plus, remember that before the opening of the iTunes Store, Apple was running its "Rip, Mix, and Burn" commercials, which were widely seen as tweaking the recording industry."
Engst also talks about the effects of DVD-Jon's breaches of FairPlay (probably minimal since everyone knows about the Rip-Burn hole anyways) and levels fair criticism at Jobs for him in effect equating breaking FairPlay and pirating:
"If FairPlay were breached, Apple would have to fix it in a very short time or risk losing its ability to sell music on the iTunes Store. There have been several breaches of FairPlay that Apple has resolved quickly - thanks to the company controlling all portions of the media-purchasing and playing process - but on the whole, FairPlay's protections have remained intact. That may be in part due to it having reasonable conditions, unlike many other DRM systems. [...] That said, Jobs unfairly equates the desire to break FairPlay to the desire to "steal" music, conveniently ignoring how many people are both philosophically and practically offended by DRM and how it limits their fair use rights."