Did Labels Ask Apple to Remove The Headphone Jack?

by Harrison Speck, Policy Fellow

On Wednesday, September 7, Apple is poised to host a special event announcing the launch of the iPhone 7, widely rumored to lack an analog headphone jack. Since these events are always accompanied by frenzied speculation, let’s make a bet: Would you wager Apple’s headphone jack is removed to reenact an already failed DRM scheme or capitalize on exclusivity and market domination in a multi-billion dollar accessory category?

With the rumors of Apple removing the analog headphone jack from the next iPhone came a deluge of articles about the impending invasion of DRM (a blanket term for various types of digital rights management). We’re told that this move must be happening at the behest of greedy record labels, eager to inconvenience users for the sake of their battle against piracy, forcing people to use DRM-protected digital audio streams.  But let’s ask some critical questions.  While it is a technical possibility that an all-digital audio feed could include DRM, who would implement it and why? 

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Submitted by kevin on September 6, 2016 - 10:30am