Welcoming Boston's new Apple Store

Last night the DRM Elimination Crew attended the grand opening of Apple's new store in Boston -- now its largest US store.

The clear glass front of the store stands in stark contrast to Apple's unethical business practices, including using opaque Digital Restrictions Management software to take rights away from its customers.

Though Apple did attempt to have us evicted, the Boston police apparently did not agree. They watched while we handed out flyers and stickers and asked the people waiting in line to get in to make their opposition to DRM known inside the store.

Last May, Steve Jobs said, "We expect more than half of the songs on iTunes will be offered in iTunes Plus [DRM-free] versions by the end of this year." We haven't done the math, but it sure seems like Apple has dropped the ball -- iTunes still only offers tracks from EMI and some independents in this form.

Photo by Dave Jones (CC BY-NC-SA)

Meanwhile, their competitors have made liars out of them. The persistent claim from Apple has been that the record labels won't allow them to offer DRM-free music. Strangely, Amazon.com and others don't seem to be having issues with this. So the truth seems to be more that Apple doesn't like the terms they are being offered and would prefer to continue their current business model of profiting by taking away the freedom of their customers.

It's also important to remember that iTunes isn't just about music anymore. Their movie rental service is fully locked down with DRM, not even permitting you to simultaneously have a movie on your computer and your portable device. Jobs is still fully committed to DRM in the world of movies.

The crowd was very supportive and I had better conversations with people about the issue than I've had at any of our previous actions. People are getting better informed, more aware and more frustrated. Apple employees inside the store undoubtedly heard a lot about DRM last night.

We hope Jobs gets the message, stops pointing fingers at others, and starts to actually live up to the statements he's made. We'll continue pressuring the labels as well, but there's no excuse for him to continue hiding behind them.