In a surprising post on Apple’s web site Apple CEO Steve Jobs speaks about DRM and the current state of music industry and why DRM just isn’t working! Jobs talked about the three different models online music distribution could use:

  1. Things could stay as they are where each online store uses different, and incompatible, DRM schemes to sync with different devices.
  2. Apple could license FairPlay to others but that has a lot of hurdles to overcome that Jobs is very skeptical about.
  3. Lastly, Jobs’ favorite option is that the music industry agrees to license their music to online stores without DRM.

Jobs is calling for the music industry to embrace this option, by arguing that DRM is pointless and pricey to support especially since consumers can buy physical CDs without with DRM and do actively copy this music into iPods. Jobs wrote,

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. 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.

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.

There is no question that the music industry should change their model, but the question remains, will they?[tags]iPod, iTunes, Apple, DRM, Steve Jobs[/tags]