Last week I noted how Microsoft’s new “power to the people” message echoed Apple’s old “1984” pitch. Yesterday, the topsy got even turvier. France gave Apple the treatment it usually reserves for Microsoft, as its National Assembly passed a measure that would require Apple to unlock its iPod/iTunes fortress. Apple, whose Macintosh design team once famously flew the pirate flag above its Silicon Valley hideout, immediately attacked France’s move as “state-sponsored piracy.”
“If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers,” said Apple, deftly repositioning itself as the benign Big Brother protecting us little folks from our criminal instincts. “Free movies for iPods should not be far behind in what will rapidly become a state-sponsored culture of piracy.”
Isn’t that more or less what Disney said about Apple back in 2002 when Apple was running its “Rip. Mix. Burn.” ads? “The ‘killer app’ for the computer industry is piracy,” declared Disney’s then-CEO Michael Eisner, as he accused Apple of encouraging people to engage in thievery. That was also when Steve Jobs was lecturing the recording industry about the evils of restrictive encryption methods. “If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own,” Jobs said. (I’m not sure if he was wearing a beret at the time.)
Here’s something else Jobs said, back when he launched the Macintosh program in 1983: “It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.”
I guess it all comes down to how much gold you have in the hold.