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15 February 2007 / erikduval

Music to my ears!

The recent post by Steve Jobs with his “thoughts on music” seems to re-open the debate (was it ever really closed?) on digital rights management for music.

In my view, an important argument that Jobs makes is that we can only have strong digital rights enforcement in a closed system (like iTunes). If we want to do this in an open system, then it is going to impact on the user experience or just not work at all. It seems to me that this translates well to educational content: if we want to restrict access, then we need to close content behind firewalls, user identification, etc. In other words, we will need to lock ourselves into a particular product – there is a certain analogy between iTunes and Blackboard/WebCT here…

Moreover, Jobs argues that there would be more innovation and, as this recent BBC news item suggests, more use (and sales!) of music if we just abandon DRM altogether. Again, the parallels with the learning context are clear: if we open up the educational content, then it will be much more widely used, adapted and enhanced than if we try to keep it “protected”.

Funny that the CEO of Apple sounds more “open” than some administrators of publicly funded universities these days…

update: I couldn’t express the basic point much better than Dave Goldberg, head of Yahoo music, does: “I’ve long advocated removing DRM on music because […] it just makes things complicated for the user.”


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  1. Gert-Jan / Feb 21 2007 11:46 am

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