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EMI, Apple get rid of DRM

Record label EMI and computer giant Apple made a landmark announcement on Monday, removing copy protection software from downloadable music.

EMI will make its existing digital music catalogue available via iTunes without Digital Rights Management (DRM). Users will be free to copy the songs they download onto all of their devices, including mobile phones, without restriction.

Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI, said: “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.”

The announcement follows a call by Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple, to abolish DRM last month.

Jobs conceded that DRM, the method music retailers use to protect tunes from being illegally copied, “haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.”

With the overwhelming success of Apple’s iPod and iTunes music store, many have called on the company to open up its proprietary end to end system to incorporate other DRM-protected music or facilitate the use of a rival music loader/library.

Jobs claimed that less than 3 per cent of the music on the average iPod is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with DRM. The remaining 97 per cent is unprotected and the record labels get much of their revenues from selling unprotected CDs.

Apple’s iTunes store has announced that it 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/Eur1.29/£0.99.

iTunes will continue to offer standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied for $0.99/Eur0.99/£0.79 for.

Complete albums will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in price. While consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade their digital music for $0.30/Eur0.30/£0.20 per track.

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