Today Fred Amoroso, CEO of Macrovision, (a company that has developed and implemented DRM technologies for nearly 25 years) responded to the Apple CEO's open letter "Thoughts on Music" with an open letter himself. The response, called To Steve Jobs and the Digital Entertainment Industry takes issue with Jobs on most points and notably opines:
- DRM increases consumer value - by allowing cutomers to buy specific content for specific purposes, instead of for a specific device;
- DRM increases the electronic distribution of content - if content creators are asked to "enter, or stay in a digital world that is free of DRM, without protection for their content, then there will be no reason for them to enter, or to stay if they've already entered. The risk will be too great."
- DRM interoperability is key to its spread - widespread interchangeable use of DRM like FairPlay across multiple devices will mean the promulgation of DRM (leading to the benefits given above), and mean that consumers "are not held hostage to one company's products"
Macrovision's CEO thus joins the cacophany of voices calling for Apple to license FairPlay. Not surprisingly, he tells Jobs that his company will "offer to assist Apple in the issues and problems with DRM that you state in your letter. Should you desire, we would also assume responsibility for FairPlay as a part of our evolving DRM offering and enable it to interoperate across other DRMs, thus increasing consumer choice and driving commonality across devices."
It's clear that the big labels would like Apple to start licensing FairPlay; this would give Apple less control over the scheme (and eventually less influence over the labels) and maybe down the road FairPlay could be strengthened into something the labels are more comfortable with. For business reasons Macrovision and many hardware makers are of the same opinion and add to the pressure on Apple. It's also probable that in exchange for this loss of control, if Apple licensed FairPlay it could potentially become gatekeeper of an industry standard (much the same way that many Microsoft technologies are standard today), and as history shows us being gatekeeper of industry standards can be hugely profitable. So why does Apple resist these market forces?