DANCING IN THE STREETS
(UPDATE: A reader's comment provides this link to a video on Google of the picketing at the Apple store in San Francisco. It's ironic that the video is set to U2's "I still haven't found what I'm looking for".)
Looks like we're picking up some new habits from the French. Boing Boing is highlighting and urging folks to join in on a multi-city picketing campaign at Apple stores around the country today. The cause d'jour? I'll let the piece explain:
"iTunes DRM may seem pretty innocuous at first, but every time you invest in an iTunes Store song, you make it more expensive to switch to an Apple competitor's product at any time in the future.
You didn't have to abandon your CDs to switch to MP3s (in fact, the more CDs you owned, the better your MP3 experience was, since you could rip those CDs to seed your MP3 collection), but if you want to go from Apple's iTunes to a competing device, ever, you have to be prepared to abandon your whole investment."
To this, Boing Boing adds additional complaints:
"Add to that Apple's willingness to remove features from iTunes Store songs in the name of "updating," the absence of any way to give away, sell or loan your iTunes Store songs, and Apple's use of blacklists and legal threats to prevent people from adding functionality to the iPod and iTunes and buying an iTunes song starts to seem like a worse and worse deal (especially since many artists report that they're seeing $0.07 or less from the sale of their music on the iTunes Store, so all your money is doing is lining the pockets of the same recording companies that are busily suing grannies, little kids and everyone else they can get their hands on)."
Wow, they didn't even come up for breath on that one.
While I may agree with some of these issues as an iTunes consumer, on a net basis, I come out in favor of Apple, it's products and it's services.
And the reason is simple. The current matrix of Apple's iTunes related offerings, pricing and policies are not dictated by Apple alone. Rather, they're a complex array of more or less win-win agreements between musicians, music publishers, music companies, music retailers, and of course consumers.
While I dislike DRM in my media as much as the next guy, I also recognize that for now. it's a necessary evil to coax the entertainment industry into the digital age.
And being an optimist, I believe the specific restrictions will get less onerous and more convenient from a consumer point of view in the fullness of time. This will be driven by the simple, inevitable force of technology-driven change (Moore's law on processing, storage, memory and wired and wireless bandwidth). Not to mention the raw power of mainstream consumers voting eventually with their wallets.
So while everyone has a right to protest as they see fit, I for one disagree with the spirit of this particular protest for tomorrow. I might be OK with the protest if it was against DRM in general; but singling out Apple when every other software, hardware and music online service provider supports DRM (since there is no other legal alternative), seems a bit unfair.
Thus I may even go to an Apple store to buy a couple of iPod doodads to show my support for what Apple continues to try and do for consumers, warts and all.
DISCLOSURE: I am a long-time Apple shareholder.