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May 9, 2005

Hilary Rosen Laments Apple's DRM Strategy

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Hilary Rosen, formerly head of the RIAA, has a most hilarious column on the new Huffington Post. I double checked the date on the post, and it isn't April Fools. Miss Rosen is complaining that she can't buy music for her iPod that doesn't come from iTunes (Steve Jobs, Let my Music Go):

I spent 17 years in the music business the last several of which were all about pushing and prodding the painful development of legitimate on-line music. Now, the music fan is on the cusp of riches in their options - free of the viruses of the pirate sites. There are lots of places you can go for great music at good deals and with a deep catalog of songs from over the last 20 or 30 years.,,, even There are little players to make your favorite music even more portable than ever starting at as little as 29 bucks. Most every player device works at every one of these “stores” and it is pretty easy to keep all the songs, no matter where you got them, in a single folder or "jukebox" on your computer.
Hello? This was and is an obvious consequence of your DRM-ed world, Miss Rosen. Apple is simply doing what comes natural. Having insisted on the means for exclusion being legally protected (i.e. DMCA), Apple is using those means to exclude competitors. The only reason that the other companies mentioned aren't doing the same thing is because they are struggling to gain marketshare. Were they the dominant players in the market, they would be doing the same thing as Apple.
The problem is that the iPod only works with either songs that you buy from the on-line Apple iTunes store or songs that you rip from your own CD’s.
Well, only if you ignore the many smaller companies that sell unencumbered MP3s to their customers.
But those other music sites have lots of music that you can’t get at the iTunes store.
And they haven't licensed to Apple, why? Whose fault is that? Is it Apple's? Or is it the fault of your former clients?
If you are really a geek, you can figure out how to strip the songs you might have bought from another on-line store of all identifying information so that they will go into the iPod. But then you have also degraded the sound quality. How cruel.
Cruel? Miss Rosen is one of the main people who insisted on creating the environment for this cruelty. In any case, if you know what you're doing, you don't have to lose much in the way of sound quality ... unless the systems are designed to make such stripping of information result in poor sound quality. Then, of course, you could always strip the DRM, but that would be a crime, thanks in part to Miss Rosen.
But keeping the iTunes system a proprietary technology to prevent anyone from using multiple (read Microsoft) music systems is the most anti-consumer and user unfriendly thing any god can do. Is this the same Jobs that railed for years about the Microsoft monopoly? Is taking a page out of their playbook the only way to have a successful business? If he isn’t careful Bill Gates might just Betamax him while the crowds cheer him on. Come on Steve – open it up.
Is it the only way to run a successful business? No, but it is a very good way to run one. Jobs isn't going to open up his system until it makes business sense. Unfortunately, Miss Rosen hasn't provided a single argument as to why it makes good business sense for him to do so. Is DRM anti-consumer and user unfriendly? Heck, yes. But that didn't stop Miss Rosen for lobbying on its behalf.
Why am I complaining about this? Why isn’t everyone?
Many of us have been complaining for a long, long time. Of course, our voices may have been drowned out to a certain extent by all the propaganda emanating from the RIAA that music without the encumbrances of DRM is tantamount to piracy.

You can't have it both ways Miss Rosen. If you want DRM, someone is going to have to control that DRM. And if you don't think they won't use that control to their ultimate advantage, you obviously didn't learn anything from your association with the music industry.

Comments (24) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: IP Abuse


1. Rob on May 9, 2005 3:36 PM writes...

BRAVO!!!! I completely echo your sentiments. The RIAA is an organization that epitomizes legal thievery. Their tactics are tantamount to "white collar organized crime". What other industry do you know of that controls EVERY aspect of the business, from denying entry for new participants to deciding who will succeed, to total distribution control? There isn't one.

I for one look forward to the day when artists connect in a meaningful way to their audience and bypass these greedy bastards completely.

If "Miss Rosen" is so incredibly blind to reaping her own actions, then how did she get such a high profile position at the RIAA?

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2. Robert K. Foster on May 9, 2005 5:22 PM writes...

The rhetoric from the RIAA and all of the other losers in the DRM-encapsulated music marketplace has been going on for quite some time and I'm glad for this rebuttal. Apple found the market, created the products, made it work, and became highly successful as a result. All of these sour grapes and whining from the johnny-come-lately's in the industry is just bad business for them.

I personally haven't found a need or desire to shop for online music anywhere but the iTunes Music store - they do a very good job and I have no reason to shop anywhere else. If I like an entire album then I just buy the physical CD anyway and rip the music, no DRM involved.

But there is one good business reason for Apple to open up the Fairplay DRM to other companies -- heading off public and customer annoyance. The competition will run with the "annoyance" factor (since that is the only leg they have to run on) and some customers will start to believe it, even if it's not actually the case. Freedom of choice is very big in the American psyche.

In my case, I vote with my money as much as I do with my political vote and I'm very happy to send that vote to Apple. I've watched all the other companies buyout and trash all of the previous technology that I thought had a viable future for music on the Internet ( is a good example). It simply proves to me that they just don't get it and/or they don't know what they're doing. Apple does. Why they don't want other idiots taking there ball and running off to another field seems obvious to me.

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3. Gryphon on May 9, 2005 5:49 PM writes...

Ms. Rosen got where she was because she said what the industry wanted to hear. It is now apparent that she didn't quite realize just how her actions would affect the future. Protected music purchased from online stores has made the music industry quite giddy with the potential profits. Unless something changes drastically, that's the way it's going to be.

Quite ironic that Ms. Rosen now has to swim in the cesspool of DRM that she created.

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4. Geoffrey Kidd on May 9, 2005 6:03 PM writes...

To summarize Ms. Rosen's entire piece in five words:
"What goes around, comes around."

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5. Foz on May 9, 2005 9:28 PM writes...

Um.. you do know it's a hoax/fake right?

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6. Chris Beck on May 9, 2005 9:57 PM writes...

The worst part of this whole travesty is that Huffington doesn't allow comments.
And Foz - if it's a hoax it is one done either with the consent of the site managers or they have been hacked.

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7. Foz on May 10, 2005 9:01 AM writes...

I have a feeling it's a deliberate parody, the site is new and needed to drive hits. They were using irony.

Hell, even The Register wasn't fooled by this, calling it an obvious hoax

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8. Kris on May 10, 2005 9:04 AM writes...

No, he means the Huffington post is a joke news site, read the other commentaries from people such as Larry David complaining his assistant didn't put enough milk in his coffee.

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9. JuggerNaut on May 10, 2005 9:20 AM writes...

I think she forgot to mention that it's a two way street on the DRM front when it comes to AAC and WMA. Apple has you locked into the iTunes/iTMS/iPod trio while Microsoft has you locked into PlaysForSure on Windows-only. If you're a Mac, Amiga and/or Linux user, you can't buy music from Napster, Rhapsody, Walmart, etc... At least Apple recognizes more then one computer platform out there.

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10. Andy Baio on May 10, 2005 11:52 AM writes...

The Huffington Post is not a joke site. It's a celebrity-driven blog organized by Arianna Huffington.

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11. Robert K. Foster on May 10, 2005 12:59 PM writes...

The Register was using reverse-sarcasm, or whatever term there is to define it. Call it the use of Registerism to imply that a piece is so ridiculous that it must be a joke.

And another thing that never seems to be mentioned, music is music wherever you buy it from. Admittedly there have been attempts at "exclusive" offers that are only available in one format but for the most part a Neil Young record is a Neil Young record whether I buy it at the iTunes Music store or the local record shop or some other online music store. The freedom of choice for consumers has to do mostly with the music not the choice of their store.

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12. JASON SIMON on May 10, 2005 5:44 PM writes...

Steve Jobs not playing fair?

What is all this crap about ipods/itunes not playing formats other than Apple's proprietary one?

I filled my G1 ipod with 10 gigs of music without an internet connection and I kept my licence to burn unlimited copies of everything i bought too!

I ripped my own huge CD collection. The last time I checked, all ipods will still play mp3's and that is as close to a universal "love all serve all" format as there is.

This is the reason why the Cd format isn't dead or even close to going away. it is a fuctional and very practical format.

This is why there are still many of us who like to purchase some of our music on disks and then put that music on our pods ourselves. Besides after you ripp it into you ipod you can still "give" the disk to you little sister if ya want.

AND there is still alot of music that is unavailable for download. Especially local stuff from bands that sell their CD's at their gig's Support local music!!!!!

So stop your whining that Apple won't licence its family jewels! Why not just Pay Mr. Jobs his fee to keep the good stuff coming to us! He get's it and makes it simple for even my mom to use digital music for her listening pleasure.

Besides the Micro$oft music solution SUCKS!

This is not 1986, and Microsoft can't steal the goodies from Apple this time, if they could they would have done it by now.

No other company can come close to the seamless quality of the ipod -itunes bundled solution. and yet they still try!

Apple leads the market in music sales and mp3 player sales because they have a better solution, not because they 'lock out" the competion.

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13. Neo on May 10, 2005 9:08 PM writes...

Microsoft's DRM should be referred to as PayForSure, since the name Microsoft uses is deceptive and therefore arguably illegal.

As for lockout and "seamless", the two tend to go hand in hand.

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14. Marc Freedman, RazorPop on May 11, 2005 12:06 AM writes...

Ernest, right on!

> Hilary, I grant that the concepts of a free market and competition may be alien concepts to you. The RIAA oligoply is known for abusing the market, embargoing P2P, co-opting government (successful) and judiciary (mostly a failure), fighting innovation, anti-competitive court convictions, and just outright lying and silliness. Still you might like to know that there are dozens of portable music players on the market. That means you don't have to buy an iPod. You can enjoy someone else's player. And still drool over Jobs all you want.

More at the P2P Insider's Blog @

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15. jeffro on May 11, 2005 11:24 AM writes...

When you all of you realize this one thing. If you want the madness to stop, the answer is simple. Dont buy music or movies. Let the bloated industry fall apart. Go out and listen to some local bands. Learn to play music yourself and enjoy what you and some friends can create. Share that creation for free with anyone that wants it.
Music should be free to anyone.

Your money that you pour into the industry is the fuel that they are using to stay running. Cut off their supply of fuel and they will die soon enough.

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16. Visiworks on May 11, 2005 2:17 PM writes...

I guess Ms. Rosen is not as tech savvy as she led the industry to believe.

Most of the non-subscription based music stores allow you to purchase individual tracks / albums with limited burning rights. So, Ms. Rosen, the simple solution is PURCHASE a good piece of burning software, PAY for your music from other download catalogs, BURN them to CD (in .cda know...the format that your car or home cd player reads)...then RIP them BACK TO MP3. Your quality loss will be negligible (provided you know what you're doing when you rip the cd), and more DRM.

Sure, it's a couple extra steps, and a $0.30 cd...but hey, this way, you now have a copy you can listen to in your car, AND you can load the newly de-DRM'd mp3's onto your iPOD.

If your into "renting" your music through subscription services like Napster or Yahoo (which to me is just assinine)...then you only have yourself to blame for not encouraging a more consumer friendly delivery and licensing system while at the wheel of the RIAA.

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17. Mike on May 11, 2005 5:50 PM writes...

I don't believe this shit! She has the gaul to cry unfair because her IPod can't download music at sites other than Itunes?

Who knows how many lives she's runined because of her undermining tactics as head of the music gestapo, RIAA!

I say, investigate her for trying!! If the shoe fits, wear it, Hillary!!

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18. Dany on May 11, 2005 6:29 PM writes...

She's jest pulling a JANET RENO. Remember when Janet Reno didn't know what a browser was in front of the whole country!
Hillary you're a boob

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19. Shawn Fumo on May 13, 2005 12:20 PM writes...

I find it amazing that no one in the comments has even mentioned eMusic, especially with the talk of local bands and un-DRM-ed music in general. I consider myself lucky to have stumbled on it, since I see so little coverage of them.

You'd think a service that gave people access to most indy labels and a bunch of local bands (through the Orchard) at around 25 cents a song, for 192vbr mp3s with no DRM would attract more attention.

Instead of griping about the big labels, I think if enough people can support the smaller labels and different sorts of initiatives (emusic, magnatune, etc), then the big guys will feel more pressure to shift. Maybe that's a bit of a pipe dream, but it seems like the net is the opportunity to circumvent the big labels.

If people start finding bands they enjoy and also cheaper and with less restrictions, that is pretty powerful. If the big labels succeed at recent efforts to increase prices to over $1 a song on the online services, they are just shooting themselves in the foot.

Still, there's so much marketing and control that it is hard to get the ball rolling. Even the fact that all these discussions seem framed around itunes versus napster versus whatever instead of the other stuff that's out there. It seems like a lot of people would rather steal big-label music than step a little further outside the box..

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20. R. Evans on May 14, 2005 7:58 AM writes...

Regardless of whether or not Miss Rosen likes I-Tunes, the real point in all of this is the sheep in this country don't stand up when a court-granted right gets trampled on. Betamax gave us the right to use our legitimately purchased media in any way we see fit, short of selling copies of it. These same sheep didn't stand up in sufficient numbers to derail the DMCA as it was winding its way through Congress, and as a result we are being stripped of our Betamax right. The only message that will rectify the problem is a complete boycott of the music moguls, including Jobs, until they are screaming that they are losing money because no one is buying their product, not because people are stealing it by downloading it for free. The power of the pocketbook resides with us, the consumers, and there have been many businesses in this country that have succumbed to the wrath of the consumer, and unless we bring the RIAA to its knees, it will keep screaming for digital rights management, and they will get it.

Will the sheep stand up and quit letting the RIAA dictate to them what they can do with their LEGITIMATELY PURCHASED media? I thought not....

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21. Dark Angel on May 14, 2005 1:41 PM writes...

I think Jeffro is the only one here that gets it at all. If people would refuse to play by these rules and not buy music or movies for 6 months the whole damn system would change. I guess the vast majority of people are just to damn weak to ever band together to pull off something like that though.

In every revolution there is one man with a vision....

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22. Jiri Baum on May 16, 2005 4:52 AM writes...

Boycott? How will that work? The RIAA will publicise any drop in sales as evidence of rising piracy...

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23. mike on May 16, 2005 10:30 AM writes...

Just send your comments here: scoop@

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24. Steve Tose on May 16, 2005 6:15 PM writes...

I don't buy it. I think her article was a smoke screen to make it seem like this was Apple's doing and not Congress' and the RIAA's doing. Sure most of us reading this see through it, but the average consumer is ignorant of all that's just been posted and when their itunes music doesn't work in a later, non-Apple mp3 player, who will they blame? I figure she wants to lay it all at Apple's door.
I might not be the biggest ipod fan, but since no one was going to be legally selling music online without DRM, thanks to the RIAA, Apple is only being smart.
Sure, they didn't use Microsoft's DRM scheme so it would work in other players, but I don't know that Creative or Diamond are trying to license itunes either. As far as customer service goes, people who replace ipods with non-DRM equipped players would get screwed anyway. For the most part, you can't download Major Label music that will play on non-DRM mp3 players. That's not really Apple's fault. They probably figure people will get pissed anyway, why not make some money before they do.

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