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The Beginning Of The End Of DRM

by @ 10:40 am on April 2, 2007. Filed under Music, Technology, iPod, iTunes

Today, Apple and record producer EMI announced a deal that will make almost all of EMI’s catalog available on iTunes without copy protection:

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – EMI, the world’s third largest music company, said on Monday it was making its music available online without a key anti-piracy measure in a deal with Apple Inc. to boost sales of digital music.

EMI Group Plc (EMI.L), home to Robbie Williams, Coldplay and Pink Floyd, said it would make its music available without an anti-piracy measure known as digital rights management (DRM), which some consumers say makes using music cumbersome.

The deal is evidence of the popularity of MP3 digital music players. MP3 is an open audio format that allows digital music fans to share songs or albums with other listeners. The music industry — until now — has shunned the standard in favor of formats that require some form of copy protection.

“We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher quality tracks and listen to them on the device or platform of their choice will boost sales of digital music,” said EMI Chief Executive Eric Nicoli.

EMI cited consumer demand for high quality music on home music systems, mobile phones and digital music players.

EMI said Apple Inc.’s (AAPL.O) iTunes online music store would be its first retail outlet using its new global pricing model for the higher-quality format without DRM.

The new higher quality DRM-free music will complement EMI’s existing range of standard DRM-protected downloads already available, EMI said at a press conference in central London with Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

So will people pay a little bit more for music that they’ll be able to use wherever and whenever they want ? It depends on how much more, but I think the answer will turn out to be yes.

This apparently, is the big announcement that was leaked to the press yesterday. There was much pre-announcement speculation that EMI would be announcing that it’s Beatles catalog would be available on iTunes, but that, apparently, is not the case:

As expected there was no formal announcement regarding a Beatles deal, as some followers anticipated when EMI announced on Sunday that it would hold a press conference with Apple.

“We are working on it,” Nicol told reporters at the press conference in London, without giving a time frame.

EMI has acted as the distributor for the Beatles since the early 1960s, but the Fab Four’s music holding company Apple Corps Ltd. has been a high-profile hold-out from Internet music services like Apple’s iTunes.

And remains so for the time being.

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