Steve Jobs in Never Before Seen Video Testimony: Music Labels Required DRM

The ongoing iPod antitrust lawsuit heard from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on Friday, in a never before seen video deposition filmed in 2011, six months before his death.

618w steve jobs career gallery 11

Image credit: PA Images Paul Sakuma/AP

Jobs noted in his video testimony Apple was required to implement its Fairplay digital rights management (DRM) software within iTunes and iPods to meet strict “black and white” deals they had with record labels.

Also, the Apple co-founder noted the company went to great lengths to secure iTunes and prevent people from taking DRM music off iPods, as it would have resulted in labels possibly removing music licenses due to piracy (via The Verge):

I think as best as I can recall, my point of view — and Apple’s point of view — we were the only big company involved in this stuff at this time, the one with the deepest pockets. And we had pretty much black and white contracts with the labels that people violated the digital rights management system, on iTunes or on the iPod, and they allowed music to be taken off the iPod as an example and put on somebody else’s computer. That would be in clear violation of the licenses they’d have in the labels, and they could cease giving us music at any time. I remember we were very concerned about that. And we went to great pains to make sure that people couldn’t hack into our digital rights management system because if they could, we would get nasty emails from the labels threatening us that they were going to yank the license.

Jobs said competitors locked out by their software security were “collateral damage”, noting Apple did not want to the burden of working with third party companies to get their hardware working with the closed security they had created.

Apple’s current vice president of iTunes engineering, Jeff Robbin, said RealNetworks was “trying to hijack the iPod” when they reverse engineered Fairplay DRM. The hack allowed songs purchased from RealNetworks to be played on iPods, plus the latter’s desktop software prompted users to choose it to launch by default instead of iTunes, meaning iPod users would not get prompted for iTunes updates–leaving iPods to be “stuck in time.”

Plaintiffs in the case—which are now down to one—argued Apple’s DRM was monopolistic as it prevented users from moving their music libraries to cheaper third party song players, and allegedly forced them to keep buying iPods to maintain and listen to their music libraries. The trial will continue on Monday.