EMI’s Nicoli on DRM-free iTunes: ‘We have to trust our consumers,’ Apple’s Jobs: ‘right thing to do’

Apple StoreApple today announced that EMI Music’s entire digital catalog of music will be available for purchase DRM-free (without digital rights management) from the iTunes Store worldwide in May. DRM-free tracks from EMI will be offered at higher quality 256 kbps AAC encoding, resulting in audio quality indistinguishable from the original recording, for just $1.29 per song. In addition, iTunes customers will be able to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free versions for just 30 cents a song.

BBC News reports, “EMI boss Eric Nicoli said the move did not diminish EMI’s fight against piracy. DRM has been hailed by some in the industry as the most effective way to stop illicit copying. ‘We have to trust our consumers,’ he said. ‘We have always argued that the best way to combat illegal traffic is to make legal content available at decent value and convenient.'”

The Beeb reports, “Apple boss Steve Jobs shared the platform with Mr Nicoli and said: ‘This is the next big step forward in the digital music revolution – the movement to completely interoperable DRM-free music.’ He added: ‘The right thing to do is to tear down walls that precluded interoperability by going DRM-free and that starts here today.'”

“Analyst Mark Mulligan, with Jupiter Research, said the announcement ‘changes not just the rules of the game, but the game itself.’ He said he expected the other record labels and online retailers to follow suit in due course. ‘Other retail partners have to come to the party because they can’t be seen to be offering an inferior product,'” The Beeb reports.

“Other record companies would soon follow EMI’s lead, predicted Mr Jobs,” The Beeb reports. “He said the more than half of all the tracks available in the iTunes store would be available DRM-free by the end of the year.”

Full article here.

Apple iTunes

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30 Comments

  1. First this is great news, and I don’t like to be the guy that just can never get pleased, but Here is a potential problem:

    Scenario:
    Imagine you download and pay for a DRM-free song. Someone goes to a party at your house and hears the song on your living room speakers playing through your $TV and asks you about it. You say that you really like the band and bought the song DRM-free on iTunes! The guest goes to your den, with out your permission, and copies the song.

    Now, the song secretly has a watermark built in so that if it is found on a p2p site the record lables know exactly where it came from and sue you to tears. You can’t prove that it wasn’t you, and so you are forced to pay lots of money.

    Is this situation unlikely, maybe. I’m just saying that there is always a catch.

  2. let’s get it straight – there was no european or french lawsuit. all that happened was that a few nordic ombudsmen (who have v few actual legal powers) stated that they didn’t like FairPlay, and the french parliament tried, in vain, to pass a law that they said would aid cross-compatibility. In addition, some functionary at the competition commission shot her mouth off, despite the actual commissioner saying that FairPlay was fine. There was never any legislation or legal action against Apple in europe, just blowhards looking for headlines.

  3. “What about the people who were happy with buying the $.99 song. DRM has never posed an issue and I’m happy with the quality now I have to pay $1.29. That’s a 29% increase in the price folks.”

    Ummm you know, you could actually READ the press release. It clearly says that the 99 cent songs with DRM will still be available……… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”shut eye” style=”border:0;” />

  4. $2 Billion in tunes sold on iTS. At $0.30 per song to upgrade to DRM free 256 kbps AAC files that is $600 million on the table for The Labels to split if they all join up under the same terms.

    Apple just set the terms for the next contract with The Labels. Who controls the music industry?

    The Middlebronfman is Steve’s bitch.

  5. A shrewed move.

    As Apple virtually own the MP3 player market with the iPod, and as iTunes offers the best and easyest user experience for buying tracks online, they’re now going after the other on-line stores with songs that any MP3 playing device can download.

    I imagine that visiting the iTunes store, Zune users will be like rabbits caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck – stunned by how easy it all is to use.

  6. Once again, The Steve has done it!

    Jobs is so attuned to the pulse of the market. I’m amazed no one at MafiaSoft, RealFake Networks, etc. are still so out of step. Kind of like how the Bush Administration is so far – just kidding. I won’t hijack this one.

    Ah, Rock on Steve!

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” />

  7. “A better idea would have been to put watermarks in the file. Some sort of code to track the files back to the person who shared it.”

    I actually dont think this is that bad of an idea so long as yit cannot be made to be hacked to incriminate someone else.

  8. The reluctance of the rest of the industry to adapt the better quality AAC has now instantly changed.

    Few manufacturers will be dumb enough to come out with a new device that is mp3 compatible but NOT AAC compatible.

    I’m guessing that there are many devices that were about to be released are now heading back to the drawing board as we speak!

  9. “It clearly says that the 99 cent songs with DRM will still be available…”

    One grouse, of course, is I’m quite happy with 128Kbps. I’m not happy with DRM. I have no problem paying more for 256Kbps. I do have a problem paying more for no DRM.

    How about offering DRM-free 128Kbps 99 cent downloads?

  10. I wonder how it will work if people want to upgrade to the non DRM songs with purchased music, and all of the Free Tuesday songs? You have to pay te 30 cents now for a song you got for free?

  11. I’m curious on the upgrade of previously purchased music. Will you still have the 128Kbps drm file when you opt for the 256Kbps upgrade or will iTunes delete it and replace it with the upgraded song file.

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