Over at Gadfly, Peter Mulcahy complains about Randall Stross' recent article in the New York Times, which rightly castigates Apple for the limitations of the FairPlay DRM with which it encodes audio and video purchased from the iTunes Store. While I think commenter Markus Kolic is right in noting that Stross seems to be misreading the Melanie Tucker case, Mulcahy is being hyperbolic when he calls Stross' work idiocy and whining:
Buyers know going in that the music they purchase goes on the iPod, and nowhere else; likewise, they know that the music they buy elsewhere goes nowhere but their iPod. If you donâ€™t like it, donâ€™t sueâ€"instead, donâ€™t buy an iPod. You can always buy a Zune, you anarchist luddite.
Before someone decides to write a derogatory comment claiming that I am stupid to expect anything else from a company like Microsoft, note that Apple has consistently increased limitations on the rights of users of iTunes and the iTunes Store. Mulcahy, however, believes that these increases are valid in the face of a ravenous record industry:
Iâ€™m pretty tired of all these people who want to completely obliterate any reasonable copyright standardâ€"not to mention the industry morons on the other side, who seem bent on self-destruction. Apple has rescued the music industry, creating a reasonable standard to prevent widespread piracy while protecting the consumerâ€™s interests (and its own). Letâ€™s not cry about it if we donâ€™t like it. Itâ€™s a free marketâ€"vote with your wallet.
On a panel a few weeks ago, I asked the head lawyer for Apple's iTunes Music Store whether Apple would, if it could, drop the FairPlay DRM from tracks purchased at the Music Store. He said "no." I was puzzled, because I assumed that the DRM obligation was imposed by the major labels on a grudging Apple.