I decided to abstain myself from commenting Steve Jobs's open letter about DRM, but since it's generating a huge buzz around it, I think it's time for my 2 cents contribution.
Here are a couple of paragraphs from the letter, written in plain English:
"The rub comes from the music Apple sells on its online iTunes Store. Since Apple does not own or control any music itself, it must license the rights to distribute music from others, primarily the “big four” music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI.... When Apple approached these companies to license their music to distribute legally over the Internet, they were extremely cautious and required Apple to protect their music from being illegally copied."
"If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music."
This is nothing new, even for Steve Jobs. Back in 2002, he publicly grumbled a bit about the record companies and their reluctance to loosen up.
"If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own."
DRM is a very sensible matter, and we will hardly see a consensus around the issue. Here are a couple of videos showing the two faces of the coin:
the first one is a video from ZDNet Executive Editor David Berlind, suggesting that DRM is C.R.A.P.
the second is a very recent web documentary made by McCann Norway for the Norwegian music industry, explaining the history of music piracy so far and analysing the effect it has on the industry.
RSS readers should click here to watch this movie.
This can be Sony's worst nightmare: first, Sony decided to distribute a rootkit in there music CDs, to be installed in your PC (without your knowledge), in order to hide is DRM software; second, Mark Russinovich discovered the existence of this rootkit, and make it public, which make people start to scream at Sony; third, someone took advantage of the rootkit and wrote a trojan codenamed Stinx-E, able to hide from Windows, so impossible to be detected and cleaned; fourth, Sony decided to provide an uninstaller to allow people to erase the rootkit, but this uninstaller raised new security holes; and finally, it seems Sony used some LGPL code, without delivering the source, so breaking copyright:
It turns out that the rootkit contains pieces of code that are identical to LAME, an open source mp3-encoder, and thereby breach the license.
This software is licensed under the so called Lesser Gnu Public License (LGPL). According to this license Sony must comply with a couple of demands. Amongst others, they have to indicate in a copyright notice that they make use of the software. The company must also deliver the source code to the open-source libraries or otherwise make these available. And finally, they must deliver or otherwise make available the in between form between source code and executable code, the so called object files, with which others can make comparable software.
Sony complied with non of these demands, but delivered just an executable program. A computer expert, whose name is known by the redaction, discovered that the CD "Get Right With The Man" by "Van Zant" contains strings from the library version.c of Lame. This can be concluded from the string: "http://www.mp3dev.org/", "0.90", "LAME3.95", "3.95", "3.95 ".
So, after all the fuss around this issue, Sony decided to allow people to download an uninstaler for is DRM software. All you have to do is fill a form, download the software and run it. Know that you know that, don't do it. People from Freedom to Tinker found out that if you install Sony uninstaller in your PC, you are opening a huge security hole. Malicious users can execute code in your PC, all you have to do is visit one of there websites. Where (and when) is this going to end?