Macrovision wants Apple to open FairPlay

Macrovision has called on Apple boss Steve Jobs to open up the FairPlay DRM Apple uses on its iTunes Store

Macrovision boss Fred Amoroso has called for Apple to open up its FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) scheme in an open letter to the Cupertino company.

His letter is a response to the one Steve Jobs posted on Apple's website two weeks ago , where the Apple CEO called for DRM to be scrapped for music.

Amoroso argues that his company's copy protections systems have been used on millions of products, ranging from CDs to DVDs and software, and that DRM actually boosted 'consumer value'.

He says: "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."

He goes on to say that, properly implemented, DRM can actually make things cheaper for consumers - by enabling them to rent movies instead of owning them and by only paying for the rights to use their media on one device rather than all of them. He also says that including DRM actually gives users the ability to get content earlier - because the music and movie industries will feel more confident about launching their products early if they know they will be protected from piracy.

"Abandoning DRM now will unnecessarily doom all consumers to a 'one size fits all' situation that will increase costs for many of them," he says.

Amoroso then calls for an interoperable DRM and offers to take on responsibility for Apple's FairPlay - which is used to protect audio and video tracks on the iTunes store - and include it in an extended version of the DRM that Macrovision uses.

We have previously reported that Apple was thinking of opening up FairPlay to third-party licencees - a fact verified that's been verified to us in the last few days. However it may well be that Jobs' thinking on this subject has shifted - as evidenced by his open letter on DRM.

Industry reaction - not always positive

Jobs' letter has predictably provoked a mixed reaction from music execs to consumer groups and other digital download sites. Yahoo! has said it would welcome the scrapping of DRM, while Warner Music said Jobs' plan was completely without merit . Troubled music giant EMI is allegedly at the stage now where it is thinking of abandoning DRM for music downloads, but won't allow this to happen on iTunes , if a report on Gulf News is anything to go by. It looks like the war of words over DRM is only just beginning.