Warner chief calls Jobs' DRM fight 'without logic'

Jobs' call for a relaxation of DRM regulations is 'completely without merit', Warner Music CEO says

Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman Thursday rejected in no uncertain terms Apple CEO Steve Jobs' suggestion last week that the major music label companies should abandon digital tunes copy protection.

Jobs' proposal, which the Apple executive floated on Tuesday in an open letter that called on the label companies to let users download tracks sans digital rights management (DRM) antipiracy protection, is "completely without merit," said Bronfman. His comments came in a Q&A portion of an earnings conference call Thursday.

"We advocate the continued use of DRM," said Bronfman. "The notion that music does not deserve the same protection as software, film, video games or other intellectual property, simply because there is an unprotected legacy product in the physical world, is completely without logic or merit."

Jobs said that Apple would drop its FairPlay DRM "in a heartbeat" if the major record labels would license their music without requiring copy protection schemes. In his letter, Jobs criticized the labels -- Warner, EMI, Sony and Universal -- for demanding DRM on music sold online at the same time that they sell billions of CDs containing unprotected tracks.

"So if the music companies are selling over 90% of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system?" Jobs asked. "There appear to be none."

Bronfman was the first executive of a major recording company to publicly take on Jobs' idea. He urged Apple and the music industry to continue working together. "Frankly, manifestos in advance of those discussions is counter-productive," said Bronfman.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld

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