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EMI drops DRM in iTMS

Apple, inc and the record label EMI announced (EMI press release, Apple press release) this morning that they will begin offering songs in the iTunes Music store that have no digital rights management (DRM). If you're not familiar with DRM, here's a quick explanation. When you buy a 99 cent song in iTunes, you can play it on your computer and up to four more computers where your iTunes account is authorized. You also can only play the song on an iPod, so if you have bought some songs on iTMS and you get an mp3 player that's not from Apple, you can't play your songs. There's also a limit on how many cds you can burn from the music you buy. The idea is to prevent piracy, but the people who are willing to pay a dollar for a song are usually not the pirating type. They could have downloaded the entire album for free from BitTorrent if they wanted to pirate it. What usually happens is that DRM is an annoyance to law-abiding music purchasers.

EMI is offering DRM-free tracks on iTunes for a premium ($1.29), but they are higher quality (256K). I think the price is still too high, but this is a huge step in the right direction. You'll be able to do whatever you want with these files: email a song to friend, burn as many cds as you want, back them up, play them on any mp3 player and not worry about losing your investment if technology changes. Steve Jobs says that similar deals with other labels will follow and by the end of the year he hopes to have 50% of the iTMS catalog available DRM-free. This may be the beginning of the end for DRM. I've never bought songs from iTunes, but I may consider it now.

I mentioned DRM in a post almost two years ago. I linked to Cory Doctorow's great speech on the subject (still a good explanation of why DRM is terrible) and I hoped that Microsoft's forthcoming portable audio player wouldn't have an oppressive DRM. It does.

If you're wondering what artists this will include, here's a list of EMI artists.

2 comments

You might like to link Steve Jobs manifesto: Thoughts on Music

(OH yeah, you prolly don’t allow the <a> tag) :p

I’ve been following the DRM for some time. How record labels can continue to justify $18 for a CD is beyond me, in this digital age.

I’ve been buying music from allofMP3.com and been very happy doing so (not that I buy much any more)

Power to the people.

-stk


Scott Kimler [Visitor]  http://randsco.com04/03/07 @ 00:02

WOW ..

(1) you do allow the <a> tag (tho I gotta remember to do the &lt; thingie)

(2) Quite the lead-in on THAT comment, eh? :p


Scott Kimler [Visitor]  http://randsco.com04/03/07 @ 00:04

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