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.
CEO & President