I Thought Monopoly Was the Whole Point of “Intellectual Property” on Feed 44

C4SS Feed 44 presents Kevin Carson‘s “I Thought Monopoly Was the Whole Point of ‘Intellectual Property‘” read by Christopher B. King and edited by Nick Ford.

Bear in mind that DRM itself — Digital Rights Management — was adopted at the behest of music companies, who saw anti-copying protections on proprietary content as central to their business model. The problem is that Apple designed its iPod to be compatible only with songs using its own DRM system, FairPlay. Real Networks, an iTunes rival, reverse-engineered Apple’s DRM to produce one of its own, Harmony, that would play on the iPod — in response to which Apple repeatedly modified the iPod to accept only songs from iTunes. The effect was to create a lock-in for iTunes, increasing its market share, giving Apple increased leverage over the record companies and hence raising the price of Apple products.

But remember the whole reason iTunes DRM’ed music in the first place was that the record companies wanted to prevent people from sharing copyrighted songs. That’s also why Congress, pursuant to the WIPO Copyright Treaty, passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which made cracking DRM a criminal offense. Copyright itself is nothing but a monopoly, and a perfectly legal one. So Apple is actually facing an anti-trust action because it abused, in a monopolistic manner, a technology for enforcing a monopoly which itself is entirely legal.

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