Friday, February 16, 2007

The continuing fair-use debate

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about Steve Job's open letter to the industry on DRM. It was a rather casual post, because I'm kind of following this issue from the sidelines right now. I do recognize the irony in Steve making these statements when Apple themselves have built an almost entirely closed ecosystem around iTunes (content->store->software->players). Opening up the content itself really just makes it easier for people to manage this same content using Apple's closed system.

That said, I found it equally interesting to see the Macrovision CEO fire back at Jobs today. For those of you that aren't aware of Macrovision, they are one of the largest players in the content protection business (i.e. DRM). So, they're basically as un-biased as Steve is in all of this - meaning *not*. There's some really amusing commentary on this over at Boing Boing.

In the short-term, it seems highly unlikely that any major changes are going to occur in the content business to make it easier to access your own purchased music. If anything, the major players (like Microsoft, etc.) are spending vasts amounts of resources making it harder to access your own content from multiple locations. At the end of the day, the content owners are counting on you to pay for access to the same content on multiple devices. Look at the ringtone business. It's a muti-billion dollar business that in many cases just helps consumers snip pieces out of songs they have already purchased and make them available on their phones.

There's too much money at stake for Steve to win this battle anytime soon. But, it seems kind of silly for Macrovision to be weighing in on this. Does anyone really care what they think?

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