Apple CEO Steve Jobs today published his thoughts on the state of the online music industry on the company website.

Jobs discusses — in detail — the way that iTunes sells tracks which are protected by technology to prevent them being stolen or misused.

The company's leader states that when iTunes launched Apple was forced to apply such technology — digital rights management (DRM) technology — on songs purchased through the service.

He states that the main protagonists in this demand were the major music labels: EMI, Universal, Warners, Sony and BMG.

Jobs also talks about interoperability within an environment in which online music service providers must repair any flaws that may emerge within their DRM systems "within weeks".

If music services fail to meet any challenges to their DRM systems within set time limits, labels reserve the right to withdraw their entire catalogue from the music stores, he explains.

Jobs answers critics who slam his company for limiting iTunes purchases for playback on devices which support iTunes DRM. He observes that licensing DRM systems to others would place any existing DRM systems at risk of being broken — leaving any services dependent on that DRM at risk of closure.

But that's not what he wants.

Apple, states Jobs, would welcome any move by major labels toward selling tracks without such systems applied.

"Much of the concern over DRM systems has arisen in European countries.  Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free," he writes.

Apple is currently under attack by Nordic EU countries over the way its DRM system stops iTunes songs being played on devices other than an iPod.

"For Europeans, two and a half of the big four music companies are located right in their backyard. The largest, Universal, is 100 per cent owned by Vivendi, a French company. EMI is a British company, and Sony BMG is 50 per cent owned by Bertelsmann, a German company," Jobs explains.

"Convincing them to to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace," he states.

"Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly," Jobs concludes.

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