EMI has just killed DRM

EMI has just killed DRM

Summary: So, EMI has chosen to free it's entire catalog of DRM. Is the beginning of the end for DRM? I think it is.


So, EMI has chosen to free its entire catalog of DRM.  Is this the beginning of the end for DRM?  I think it is.

Here's a link to the press release that says it all.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • EMI makes its digital catalog available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of DRM.
  • The new higher quality DRM-free music will complement EMI's existing range of standard DRM-protected downloads already available.
  • Quote from Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group: "Our goal is to give consumers the best possible digital music experience. By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans. 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."
  • Apple's iTunes Store is the first online music store to make available EMI's new premium downloads.
  • Apple has announced that iTunes will make individual AAC format tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29/€1.29/£0.99. iTunes will continue to offer consumers the ability to pay $0.99/€0.99/£0.79 for standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied.
  • EMI expects that consumers will be able to purchase higher quality DRM-free downloads from a variety of digital music stores within the coming weeks.
  • Consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade their digital music for $0.30/€0.30/£0.20 per track. 
  • All EMI music videos will also be available on the iTunes Store DRM-free with no change in price.

This has to be the beginning of the end for DRMed content.  Other labels will no doubt have to follow suit and make similar offerings to remain competitive.

I'll have more comment on the potential implications of this later.


Topic: Legal

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  • Copy Protection has *NEVER* worked

    Back in the pre-CP/M days they tried copy protection. Everything from malformed tracks on floppy disks, to laser drilled holes in diskettes.

    Lotus 123 tried it, games tried it, CAD systems and other uber-expensive software tried it, and failed.

    Now it's RIAA's turn.

    Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it...
  • Once a Crook, Always a Crook

    It's hard to for a crook to go change. There is no reasons (that benefit the consumer) to hike the price of the DRM free track. DRM free track cost less (because no illegal DRM is applied to them). the cost of higher quality should be offset by it (the missing DRM). But crook are hard to change, so they must pervert a good idea by hicking the price...

    Why should i pay more for something that cost less?

    How sell music that everyone can get for free...
    1. Reduce cost, that is easy! REMOVE illegal DRM, stop hiring costly spies to illegaly monitor P2P network. Stop abusing the justice system.
    2. Give back the money save in step one to consumer by LOWERING (not hiking) price.Include bonus with track(s) like song lycric, exclusive pictures etc...
    3. Enjoy boost in sale and lower piracy rate.

    Once those simple steps are in place, close down (and sue infinite money) the now useless RIAA

    Rince and repeat with the MPAA
    • Why should i pay more for something that cost less?

      The answer is simple. The removal of DRM means you get MORE not less. More freedom to choose your playback devices, more freedom to choose your playback locations and more freedom from being locked into a standard which may disappear to be changed at any time.

      That is what you're paying extra for. To be free of the hobble of DRM.

      It's a price worth paying.
      • Good Answer! Good Answer!

        Pay for your freedoms, eh?
        But...but.... I thought you were free to begin with. I know I am. At least as free as anyone can be, everyone is a slave to SOMETHING. But I am not now nor have I ever been a slave to DRM. Just don't purchase anything with DRM and you'll be free of DRM and it wont cost you ANYTHING.
        Ole Man
      • Is it really more?

        I have to disagree with you. I can buy the CD now and just rip to DRM-free MP3 at the bitrate I choose. The challenge isn't to get me to buy EMI music vs. some other label. The challenge is to get me to buy digital music instead of a CD.

        Is there really that much more freedom here? That much more interoperability? The track is still AAC. Last time I checked, that still won't play on an MP3-enabled CD player (like in my car).

        Still, this is a good start. But there's more to be done before this really matters.
        • Is it really more?

          Pertinent: EMI expects that consumers will be able to purchase higher quality DRM-free downloads from a variety of digital music stores within the coming weeks.
          For 99-cents per my favorite-tracks, I'd prefer EMI-sound-engineered professionally-composed + edited OGGs (non-DRM) that can be heard via whatever hardware or media I happen to have handy, versus my own ripped-versions. EMI seems on-course to me! Barry.
    • The market will set the price

      Round 1, DRM at 128 = $0.99, DRM free at 256 = $1.29

      I think the increase in quality is worth the 30c, you may not (not relevant to my argument).

      iTunes offers DRM free, all of EMI's catalogue. Sales will increase, there will certainly be a "bloom".

      What choice to the rest have? They have no growing markets. So other stores can now sell DRM free, but Walmart, ever the price shaver, sells 198 for $1.19. Real offers 128 at $.89 160 at $1.18 (gotta beat that Walmart price :-D).

      They key here, this actually opens the market up to real competition. (Pray For Sure was never competition, and all remaining non iTunes stores are not really competition).

      When all stores can carry the same content and consumers have the freedom to purchase wherever they want, we get actual choice. Maybe Napster holds to $1.29 for 256, but you purchase 5 or more tracks from the same CD, you get a poster from the group. The possibilities are endless.

  • Double the quality???

    Adrian, there are several references to the DRM free media being "double the quality". What is the measure of this? The DRM free files will have twice the sampling rate but that will only make a difference if the original master tapes were sampling at that rate. If the 128 kB/s files are just re-sampled there should be no noticeable increase in sound quality. How this interacts with the compression routines is a bit of a black box to me and may be where the quality difference is apparent. From one hardware geek to another, what is your knowledge on this.

    - Ian.
    • Implied

      If Apple takes the 128, and reconverts that to 256, you are correct, the 256 will sound probably worse than the 128, however, Apple will be lambasted by audiophiles who purchase a song, they analyze the track and find the problem. They could probably get into legal trouble for misleading advertising, 256k of a 128 source would be a serious mistake.

      • not the first time, won't be the last

        Wouldn't be the first time one of the bozo's currently in charge of the music industry made what any sane human being could see is a "serious mistake" in the name of greed and pursuit of the mighty $$ (witness the Sony DRM debacle).
  • The end of Apple's proprietry DRM, and hopefully, their dominance.

    This will help to remove the iTunes/iPlop dominance as well, which HAS to be a good thing!! Competition will be great for everyone.
    Big Scoddie
    • Not for a while

      Flying to customer site today, reading the SkyMall magazine and no word of an exageration, there must have been 200 items just for Ipods. From waterproof shower enclosure speakers to alarm clock cradles to wireless headsets to video glasses for video ipods. I honestly don't remember any accessory that didn't have the "i" in front of it. I did, however, only make it to page 120 before I got bored and listened to music on my computer. :D

      It would seem that Apple has approached critical mass on the 3rd party market (lol).

  • So what's next? HD?

    Maybe it has transpired somehow that the only ones profiting from DRM are those marketing DRM schemes. According to rumors, this costs the indutry $1 billion a year, probably more than any REAL damages caused by copying, and it's sharply rising.

    If the higher quality songs go unprotected, so where's the point protecting better quality (HD) movies with tremendous extra effort? Shouldn't the movie industry also rethink their policies, even more so as these protection schemes can never be safe technically?

    It's high time to abandon useless stuff that only causes tremendous collateral damage by mutilating technology.

    Rolf R. Hainich