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3/8/2007
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Steve Jobs Challenged To Drop Copy Protection For Pixar Films

DefectiveByDesign dares the Apple CEO, among other items, to fund a campaign to repeal the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for the benefit of customers.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has no lack of pen pals. His Feb. 6 open letter, "Thoughts on Music," calling for an end to digital rights management, elicited a flurry of responses from companies like Macrovision and SanDisk, entrepreneurs like Michael Robertson and Mark Cuban, and just about everyone with a blog.

Jobs's letter was nothing if not provocative. "Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats," he said. "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."

Today, DefectiveByDesign, an initiative backed by the Free Software Foundation, a longtime foe of digital rights management, challenged Jobs to put his money where his mouth is.

Questioning Jobs's sincerity, DefectiveByDesign called upon Apple to take three steps to demonstrate its commitment to ending DRM: drop DRM on iTunes for independent artists; drop DRM on iTunes for Disney movies and video; and fund a campaign to repeal the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's prohibition on bypassing digital rights management.

"Many independent artists and labels distribute their music through iTunes and many wish to do so without DRM, but you won't let them," said the letter. "You could show good faith immediately by dropping DRM for those artists and labels."

Jobs could also, as DefectiveByDesign points out, demand that Pixar films, if not Disney films, be sold on iTunes without digital rights management. He was, after all, the head of Pixar and is the largest individual Disney shareholder.

And why not, if the absence of DRM is "clearly the best alternative for consumers"?

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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