EMI drops DRM with iTunes

April 2, 2007


EMI is to make its music available online without a key anti-piracy measure, becoming the first major music group to take the risk in a bid to grow digital sales.

Digital Rights Management or DRM was introduced to contain piracy by preventing users from making multiple copies, but its critics say it restricts consumers and therefore hinders the growth of legal downloading.

With all music companies struggling from a drop in the sale of physical albums, EMI, home to Robbie Williams, Coldplay and Pink Floyd, announced its first deal with Apple Inc. and the iTunes online music store.

Under the deal, iTunes will offer a higher price of $1.29, 1.29 euros or 99 pence for every track of EMI’s catalog available online in a higher-quality format without DRM. EMI albums sold on iTunes will automatically be sold without the software and at the higher sound quality for the same price.

The new higher quality DRM-free music will be in addition to EMI’s existing range of standard DRM-protected downloads, which will still be available, EMI said at a press conference in central London with Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

“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,” said EMI Chief Executive Eric Nicoli.

The industry is likely to watch closely.

Warner Music Group has said it sees no logic to dropping DRM but is still testing music without it, while Vivendi’s Universal Music has said it, too, is still testing tracks without DRM.


One comment

  1. This is HUGE! I love it! I’ll gladly pay the difference and I will plan on upgrading quite a large portion of my library. Personally I am starting to buy more single tracks and less albums so the price difference isn’t that big of a deal to me. Way to bring the hammer, Jobs! I love how Apple is so consumer driven!

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