New York Times technology correspondent Brad Stone has some great information on the future of DRM-free songs available on iTunes. Blogging live from the Macworld Expo, here’s the quick and dirty down low:
“1:37 p.m.: More background: EMI had been the only one of the four major labels to offer DRM-free songs through iTunes Plus. The other three held out, demanding the right to set a range of prices for songs. They also wanted to spur the growth of Amazon’s MP3 store as a competitor to iTunes. But now Apple has given in on variable pricing, and is now fully joining the DRM-free movement.”
Does this mean all songs on the iTunes store will be DRM-free? It’s too soon to tell what the consequences are, and with the impact of variable pricing, how that will impact the number of people who buy music from iTunes and elsewhere. And to think, the infamous EMI is the first to offer DRM-free tunes… wonder what Johnny Rotten makes of all this… or better yet, what today’s punk and emo bands think…
Here’s more information from the Apple website on the iTunes DRM changes:
“High-quality, DRM-free music.
iTunes Plus is the new standard on iTunes.
Now, you can choose from millions of iTunes Plus songs from all four major music labels and thousands of independents. With iTunes Plus, you get high-quality, 256-Kbps AAC encoding. All free of burn limits and digital rights management (DRM). So iTunes Plus music will play on iPod, Apple TV, all Mac and Windows computers, and many other digital music players. It’s also easy to upgrade your iTunes library to iTunes Plus. You don’t have to buy the song or album again. Just pay the 30¢ per song upgrade price. (Music video upgrades are 60¢ and entire albums can be upgraded for 30 percent of the album price.)”
*One reader asked for a definition of DRM-free. As the above piece indicates, DRM stands for digital rights management, which basically meant there were controls exercised over the music you would purchase from iTunes, despite the fact that you’ve purchased it. For example, there are limits on how often you can burn a song (breach the limit and you can no longer play the song), once you burn a song it looses its quality in the copied version, you can only play a song on certain digital music player (aka if you purchased music from iTunes and it was a DRM file, you could only play it on iTunes), etc. DRM-free basically means all these regulations placed upon songs you would pay to download that were encrypted in your music are no longer in place if you are to download music from iTunes. Basically, you will have complete control over the music you purchase.