Jobs to majors: Kill DRM

Innovation would result, CEO says

New York — Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs is calling for the major labels to abandon digital rights management.

"DRMs haven't worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy," he wrote in an open letter posted Tuesday on the company's Web site.

Jobs said there appeared to be no benefit for the record companies in continuing to sell more than 90% of their music without DRM on compact discs while selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system.

"If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players," he wrote. "This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies."

Apple's salvo in the DRM debate comes as the company is facing increasing pressure in Europe to make its iPod/iTunes ecosystem interoperable with third parties.

"Much of the concern over DRM systems has arisen in European countries," Jobs wrote. "Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies toward persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free. Convincing (the labels) to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly."

Analysts suggested Tuesday that Jobs might be trying to deflect pressure from the European Union regarding the interoperability question to the record labels.

Brian Garrity is a senior correspondent for Billboard; Reuters contributed to this report.