Macrovision posts pro-DRM open letter to Steve Jobs and digital entertainment industry

Macrovision has posted a response to Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ open letter calling for DRM-free music. Here it is verbatim:

I would like to start by thanking Steve Jobs for offering his provocative perspective on the role of digital rights management (DRM) in the electronic content marketplace and for bringing to the forefront an issue of great importance to both the industry and consumers. Macrovision has been in the content protection industry for more than 20 years, working closely with content owners of many types, including the major Hollywood studios, to help navigate the transition from physical to digital distribution. We have been involved with and have supported both prevention technologies and DRM that are on literally billions of copies of music, movies, games, software and other content forms, as well as hundreds of millions of devices across the world.

There are four key points that I would like to make in response to your letter.

DRM is broader than just music –
While your thoughts are seemingly directed solely to the music industry, the fact is that DRM also has a broad impact across many different forms of content and across many media devices. Therefore, the discussion should not be limited to just music. It is critical that as all forms of content move from physical to electronic there is an opportunity for DRM to be an important enabler across all content, including movies, games and software, as well as music.

DRM increases not decreases consumer value –
I believe that most piracy occurs because the technology available today has not yet been widely deployed to make DRM-protected legitimate content as easily accessible and convenient as unprotected illegitimate content is to consumers. The solution is to accelerate the deployment of convenient DRM-protected distribution channels—not to abandon them. Without a reasonable, consistent and transparent DRM we will only delay consumers in receiving premium content in the home, in the way they want it. For example, DRM is uniquely suitable for metering usage rights, so that consumers who don’t want to own content, such as a movie, can “rent” it. Similarly, consumers who want to consume content on only a single device can pay less than those who want to use it across all of their entertainment areas – vacation homes, cars, different devices and remotely. Abandoning DRM now will unnecessarily doom all consumers to a “one size fits all” situation that will increase costs for many of them.

DRM will increase electronic distribution –
Well maintained and reasonably implemented DRM will increase the electronic distribution of content, not decrease it. In this sense, DRM is an important ingredient in the overall success of the emerging digital world and especially cannot be overlooked for content creators and owners in the video industry. Quite simply, if the owners of high-value video entertainment are asked to enter, or stay in a digital world that is free of DRM, without protection for their content, then there will be no reason for them to enter, or to stay if they’ve already entered. The risk will be too great.

DRM needs to be interoperable and open –
I agree with you that there are difficult challenges associated with maintaining the controls of an interoperable DRM system, but it should not stop the industry from pursuing it as a goal. Truly interoperable DRM will hasten the shift to the electronic distribution of content and make it easier for consumers to manage and share content in the home – and it will enable it in an open environment where their content is portable across a number of devices, not held hostage to just one company’s products. DRM supporting open environments will benefit consumer electronics manufacturers by encouraging and enabling them to create ever more innovative and sophisticated devices for consumers that play late running premium content from a number of sources.

As an industry, we can overcome the DRM challenges. A commitment to transparent, interoperable and reasonable DRM will effectively bridge the gap between consumers and content owners, eliminate confusion and make it possible for new releases and premium content to enter the digital environment and kick off a new era of entertainment.

At Macrovision we are willing to lead this industry effort. We offer to assist Apple in the issues and problems with DRM that you state in your letter. Should you desire, we would also assume responsibility for FairPlay as a part of our evolving DRM offering and enable it to interoperate across other DRMs, thus increasing consumer choice and driving commonality across devices.

In summary, we are on the verge of a transformation in home entertainment that can be as significant as the introduction of the PC into the home or the invention of the television. Already, consumer equipment manufacturers are introducing advancements in wireless connectivity and the interoperability of devices that are opening the door to new ways for consumers to acquire and view content from many sources.

With such an enjoyable and revolutionary experience within our grasp, we should not minimize the role that DRM can and should play in enabling the transition to electronic content distribution. Without reasonable, consistent and transparent DRM we will only delay the availability of premium content in the home. As an industry, we should not let that happen.

Thank you,
Fred Amoroso
CEO & President
Macrovision Corporation
Macrovision. In love with DRM since 1983.

Related articles:
62% of music industry execs think eliminating DRM would increase music download sales – February 14, 2007
Warner’s DRM-loving Middlebronfman warns wireless industry it may lose music market to Apple iPhone – February 14, 2007
Windows Vista’s DRM is bad news – February 14, 2007
Monster Cable announces full support of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ call for DRM-free music – February 13, 2007
Microsoft’s Bach talks Apple iPhone, DRM, Zune, and more – February 09, 2007
Recording Industry Association of America wants their DRM, calls for Apple to license FairPlay – February 08, 2007
Warner’s Middlebronfman: Jobs’ DRM-free music call ‘without logic and merit, we’ll not abandon DRM’ – February 08, 2007
Dvorak: Apple CEO Steve Jobs is dead right about DRM – February 07, 2007
Apple’s Jobs jolts music industry; Zune exec calls Jobs’ call for DRM-free music ‘irresponsible’ – February 07, 2007
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ posts rare open letter: ‘Thoughts on Music’ – calls for DRM-free music – February 06, 2007
Apple Inc. and The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. enter into new agreement – February 05, 2007
Norwegian Ombudsman: Apple’s FairPlay DRM is illegal in Norway – January 24, 2007
Major music labels ponder DRM-free future – January 23, 2007
Clash, Pink Floyd manager: ‘DRM is dead’ – November 06, 2006
Study reports the obvious: most music on iPods not from iTunes Store – September 17, 2006
Warner’s Middlebronfman: ‘We sell our songs through iPods, but we don’t have share of iPod revenue’ – October 05, 2005
Warner music exec discusses decapitation strategy for Apple iTunes Music Store – September 28, 2005
Warner CEO Bronfman: Apple iTunes Music Store’s 99-cent-per-song model unfair – September 23, 2005


  1. “Macrovision has been in the content protection industry for more than 20 years”

    WELL DUH!!! Would anyone think that Macrovision would be in support of dropping DRM and their principal source of revenue?

    Get real!

    Magic Word – heard I heard that Macrovision had a vested interest in DRM.

  2. Let them flap thier gums.. If they are so good at protecting things then why are Movie studios adopting other means of copy protection? Oh it is because Macrovisions system was cracked the day it came out.. They are just mad cause the train left without them..


    Macrovision DRM schemes are the easiest in the world to bypass! (People tell me.) Even the great and omnipotent Sony’s DRM, while frequently troublesome, can be circumvented with just a little extra effort . . . AND ALWAYS WILL BE!

    All these guys are doing is screwing legitimate, law-abiding customers whose children eat DVDs like candy–and who can’t back up their purchases honestly and above-board.

    Bend over, consumer, and take one for the team.

  4. A commitment to transparent, interoperable and reasonable DRM will result in it being cracked very quickly – to wit, the first successful bypass of the AACS DRM in one device was recently announced.

    At Macrovision we are willing to lead this industry effort. Why not? It’s what we get paid for. And the less it works, the more we’ll <strike>earn</strike> work.

  5. Actually, he makes a few good arguments, among the nonsensical ones. If DRM encourages content-owners to sell digitized content over the internet because it makes them feel safe, that is a good thing. It is normal for sellers to want to try to prevent theft of their content. It is normal for consumers to want the broadest possible usage rights (i.e., unlimited). And for neither to put themselves in the others’ shoes to consider the merits of their position.
    Personally, I’m undecided. As long as the govt. doesn’t get involved to tip the scales in either direction, I expect the debate will sort itself out in a reasonably way.

  6. Re: LinuxGuy and Mac Prodigal Son

    You are absolutely right – the media companies have indirectly defended Apple against Euro-legistration. And, in the process, Steve comes out on top by defending the position held by most consumers.

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