iTunes?

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Mon Jan 12 16:04:49 MST 2009


Jason Wright <jasonwright365 at gmail.com> writes:

> On Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 12:45 PM, Levi Pearson <levi at cold.org> wrote:
>> I didn't say Apple was blameless.  Their handling of people who
>> reverse-engineer their stuff isn't great.  I'd say they've got a very
>> mixed record when it comes to this stuff, but I think it derives from a
>> desire to tightly control the iPod/iTunes experience.  I don't think
>> that's necessarily a bad thing, though it should certainly be a factor
>> in anyone's decision to buy into the iPod/iTunes marketplace.

> You are quite the Apple advocate. From your arguments, you seem to
> hold Apple (or at least Steve Jobs) almost blameless for
> anti-competitive practices. From your response it would seem that
> Steve Jobs doesn't run the company or have influence in how DRM
> technology is used, but that "lawyers" make the decisions.

You are quite the reader!  Despite my criticism of Apple and my dismay
at some of the things they've done, you see only advocacy.  From your
response, it would seem that you didn't read mine very carefully.  You
want me to be wrong, so you pick out the bits that don't look right to
you and assume they're the only thing I wrote.

Apple is not a perfect company.  They make what I think are great
products, but sometimes they make some serious blunders as well.  I
don't like the DMCA-related lawyering, but I don't have enough facts in
those cases to say whether those are an indication of Apple's love of
DRM or simply isolated incidents dealing with specific legal cases.  I
don't think you have enough facts to make that call either.

I'm not an Apple advocate, I'm an advocate for being reasonable with
regard to businesses and how they interact in today's business
environment of laws and technology.  I occasionally argue with
Microsoft-bashers too, though I'm no huge fan of Microsoft.  

I think Apple is well within their rights as hardware/software system
designers to create a product that works the way they designed it.  I
think they're also within their rights to license technology and take
technological measures to protect the things they've licensed.  I
support these rights for any business. 

I don't think Apple has been anti-competitive (in a legal sense) in
their dealings with iPod and iTunes.  The DRM technology they have used
with relation to media files has been mandated by the media owners, not
Apple, and they were on the vanguard of eliminating it for audio.  Most
of the points in the article had nothing to do with that, however, but
instead on technological means to enforce licensing agreements.

Perhaps it was anti-competitive of them to not license their DRM
technology, but it doesn't seem to me that it prevented competition from
existing.  Witness all the WMA players and stores that competed, largely
unsuccessfully, with them.  And now the other stores and players thant
are DRM-free.  This looks like a healthy market to me, even though one
player is currently dominant.

>> Clearly Apple doesn't care about DRM the same way you do.  They don't
>> see it as an evil to be eliminated at all cost.  They see it as an
>> impediment to user experience in some cases, and a tool to ensure user
>> experience in others.  Does this make them evil?  Well, only if you view
>> DRM as always evil.
>
> Evil is a very subjective word. Wikipedia even goes so far as to call
> similar words "weasel words" The word does not give a factual
> statement, but attempts to bias based on emotion. It's not a very good
> argument. My point about DRM is that it limits the user's control of
> the media and gives the control of how the media is to be used to
> someone else, in this case Apple. Much of this control (if not all) is
> anti-competitive. Yes that may affect the quality of the user
> experience (among other things) but it creates a more level playing
> field among competition.

Man, do I need to speak lawyerese for you to be able to see what I'm
saying without going into these silly digressive responses?  Of course I
don't literally mean 'evil' like killing puppies and stealing candy from
babies.  Please substitute 'evil' with 'unethical technology' and
'unethical' as approprite in the above paragraph of mine.  Does that
make you happy?

> I don't take offense to the word; however, using a word such as zealot
> is an appeal to emotion and does not give an objective viewpoint, just
> as your use of the word "evil" was also an appeal to emotion.
> Specifying that it is a "pet cause" belittles the stance of the
> organization instead of addressing the important issues.
>
> Lumping 2 different organizations together just because they are
> strong willed isn't a very good reason. It's like lumping Republicans,
> Democrats and Libertarians together.
>
>
>>Also, it's reasonable to compare two
>> very different things by finding some core similarities.  See 'analogy'
>> above.
>
> And what would those similarities be, besides being a non-profit and
> dealing with technologies? (in reference to the FSF & EFF)

Captain Obvious to the rescue!  The similarity between FSF and EFF is
that they deal with issues of Freedom as it relates to technology.  See,
it's right there in their names, though I admit it's less obvious when
we just use the TLAs.

> Analogies can only describe both ideas to a certain point. An analogy
> is a comparison of 2 very different things. An analogy always fails to
> show complete congruence. I like this article on the topic:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy#Rhetoric

I'm glad you've figured that out. I think most of us knew that before
now, though.

                --Levi



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