“Understanding how Apple’s FairPlay DRM works helps to answer a lot of questions: why it hasn’t been replaced with an open, interoperable DRM that anyone can use, why Apple isn’t broadly licensing FairPlay, and why the company hasn’t jumped to add DRM-free content from indie artists to iTunes,” Daniel Eran writes for RoughlyDrafted.
“Why can’t the music industry just adopt an open standard for DRM? The simple answer is that the basic concept of interoperable DRM makes no sense,” Eran writes.
“Since the point of DRM is to limit interoperability by using secrets, there is no open way to deliver a DRM system that does what it’s supposed to do. If it were open, then it wouldn’t be secret. When the secrets get out, it’s now open, but it no longer works as DRM,” Eran writes. “If that logic isn’t too difficult to fathom, here’s another wrinkle to complicate things: the industry has already adopted interoperable frameworks for DRM. One is the MPEG-4 AAC standard, which is used by Apple in iTunes.”
Eran writes, “The earlier MP3 file format had no provision for DRM. However, the newer AAC format was designed with an open mechanism for companies to extend the format using their own DRM implementation. That’s as open as DRM can possibly get: an agreed upon system for putting secrets in a specific place. It’s still a secret, but it’s at least a known unknown. While anyone can access and play a standard AAC file, to use a DRM-protected AAC file they need to know the secret to decoding that particular file.”
Much, much, much more in the full article here.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ posts rare open letter: ‘Thoughts on Music’ – calls for DRM-free music – February 06, 2007