EMI drops DRM from digital music catalog (updated)

Summary:Update: It's official, Steve Jobs has announced that the entire EMI catalog will go DRM-free in May. The only catch is that the DRM-free tracks cost more (US$1.

Update: It's official, Steve Jobs has announced that the entire EMI catalog will go DRM-free in May. The only catch is that the DRM-free tracks cost more (US$1.29 each) but the carrot is that they're also higher resolution (woot!). You can even upgrade your DRM'd tracks to the newer crispy digitals for the 30 cent difference. 

I hope that Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group are paying attention. (Hint: people are even willing to pay more for DRM-free tunes.)


It's Steve Jobs dream come true. The country's third-largest record labels, EMI, may be dropping DRM from the digital music that they sell. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) is reporting that the record label will announce just that at a press conference today:

In a major reversal of the music industry's longstanding antipiracy strategy, EMI Group PLC is set to announce Monday that it plans to sell significant amounts of its catalog without anticopying software, according to people familiar with the matter.

The London music company is to make its announcement at a London news conference featuring Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs. EMI is to sell songs without the software -- known as digital rights management -- through Apple's iTunes Store and possibly through other online outlets.

February 6, 2007 will certainly be remembered as a watershed moment in the world of digital music, it's when Steve Jobs posted his now famous Thoughts on Music. In it Jobs claimed that abolishing DRM forever is "the best alternative for consumers" and that Apple would "embrace it in a heartbeat."

Dropping DRM would certainly be a good start, but in order to get my business Apple will have to offer higher resolution music (192 kbps minimum, preferably in a lossless format like FLAC) and offer movies and videos in high definition.

The other gotcha about this story is the "significant amounts of its catalog" part, it sounds like they're not ready to unleash the entire catalog sans-DRM, which would be a shame.

Topics: Apple


Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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