Steve Jobs has put out a pretty gutsy memo that essentially lays out Apple’s stance regarding DRM and what an immense waste of time and energy it is for everyone involved. In short, Jobs asserts that if the big record labels agreed to drop DRM protection altogether, Apple would wholeheartedly embrace it.
I for one have never and would never buy music from iTunes precisely because of the restrictions associated with that music. Put another way, if iTunes sold plain vanilla MP3’s, I’d be all over it. I may actually never take advantage of the “freedom” of purchasing unrestricted content, I just like knowing that I can. I think this is partly why CD’s so drastically eclipse online sales even to this day. People know that when they buy a CD, they truly own it and can do with it what they wish.
I also think this is less about the DRM restrictions that are in place than it is about the lack of knowledge around DRM. People don’t feel good about what they don’t know. They’re confident about their ownership when purchasing a CD, not so much when buying a song on iTunes.
Also, Jobs points out that the entire DRM cat and mouse game is a losing (and extremely costly) proposition for everyone involved. The gain is nowhere near the cost.
Oddly, this isn’t about legal minutia and content ownership. It’s about human nature. Hackers love the challenge of cracking the code as an end in itself, not as a means to steal music. And consumers want to know that when they buy something, they really own it. Acknowledging these two nearly obvious facts can get everyone to a better place.