I’m blown away by Apple and EMI’s latest announcement that the company will makes its artists’ music available through the iTunes store without DRM (digital rights management, a.k.a. copyright protection). On top of that, the tunes will be offered at double the normal iTunes sound quality– not CD quality, but you will be able to hear the difference. The store will charge an additional 30 cents US for these tracks, but albums will be the same price. In all, a good deal.
I have been vehemently anti-iTunes (the store, not the software) because of the combination of the crippling DRM features and the proprietary AAC file format. I can live with AAC vs. MP3 if they let other players play them– aside from the iPod that is– but the DRM was a deal-breaker with me. With the exception of some toe-dipping, and my support of the recent “Bum Rush the Charts” event, I have refused to buy from the store. I just don’t like DRM, as it cripples the fair use aspects of music enjoyment. It makes it a pain to transfer tunes from one device to the next, and yes, share it with friends.
Steve Jobs recently came out with a statement saying he would like to get rid of DRM, but there were skeptics– was he just covering his ass because of pending court cases in Europe? Well now he and one of the major labels are putting the money where his mouth is. Very nice.
I understand piracy concerns, but the record companies have a lot more to gain from seeing as a friendly corporate entity that wants everybody to hear their products, rather than a paranoid, obsessed bunch of Captain Queegs that runs around suing their customers.
I have no data to back this up, but I think that by letting go of DRM- and assuming a certain amount of piracy that is going on anyway– record companies could thrive. Fair use is a loss leader. I ripped a friends’ copy of the Beatles’ “Love.” a few months ago, played it for my wife, and she went out and bought four copies for friends. Extreme example? I don’t think so.
This news makes me want to go out and buy some EMI tunes. Isn’t the Jazz Label Blue Note on EMI? Why yes– yes, it is– now I am really excited.
Now, AAC still bugs me, but only because my current player won’t handle them. But that is easily fixed, I think — and if other stores follow suit, it won’t be an issue.
Of course, most of us know the Beatles are on EMI, but are not yet on iTunes. When they do go online, will they be part of this new, enlightened deal?