Apple & EMI Sign a DRM-Free Deal

02Apr07

I think is fair to say everyone has heard about, if not read the essay ‘Thoughts on Music’ written by Steve Jobs and posted on the Apple website not long ago. At the time, Jobs’ essay made sense, and I hold the belief that DRM use drives piracy rather than the opposite, but didn’t believe anyone would take a chance on DRM-Free music any time soon.

Today I was proved wrong, when tuning in to the BBC1 1 o’clock news (traditional media actually breaks the news first this time) I was greeted with the news that Apple & The record label EMI have signed a deal to offer EMI music on iTunes without the FairPlay DRM.

Of course it isn’t completely straight forward, as DRM free tracks will cost $1.29, an increase of 30 cents in the US over the standard price for a track. However, it’s not only the price that iss increasing, but the bit-rate of the tracks too. DRM-Free tracks will be encoded in 256 kbps AAC format, which Apple claims will result in “audio quality indistinguishable from the original recording”.

Owners of existing EMI tracks will have the option of ‘up-grading’ their (EMI) collection to the new DRM-Free format for 30 cents per track. Fortunately iTunes users will still be able to buy DRM protected $0.99 tracks, as they will be given the option of which format they would prefer when purchasing music.

I have to say this is an encouraging move by EMI, and I hope more follow where they lead, and make digital media a fairer prospect all round. Further information can be found in the Official Apple press report.


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