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Steve Jobs Outlines iTunes DRM-free Plan
Monday, April 2nd, 2007 at 8:55 AM - by
Speaking at a joint press conference with EMI Group in London, Apple CEO Steve Jobs reiterated his stance against copy protection in music downloads, and explained exactly what the iTunes Store is doing to promote interoperability between portable media devices.
Starting in May, the iTunes Store will offer EMI's catalog worldwide without copy protection, and those enhanced tracks will also be encoded at 256kb AAC - twice the bit rate as current Fairplay-encoded tracks - for US$1.29 each. The existing DRM-enabled library will still be available at the standard $0.99 a track, allowing users to choose which version of the songs they want. Full album pricing, however, will remain the same: Users will not have to pay a premium for DRM-free full album purchases.
Mr. Jobs called the new DRM-free music option an "interoperability safety net," meaning users can purchase tracks without worrying which brand music player they will load the songs on.
Apple is also offering EMI's DRM-free deal to all music labels. Mr. Jobs predicts that about half of the 5 million tracks available at the iTunes Store will be DRM-free by the end of 2007 as additional labels come on board.
Users hoping for video downloads without copy protection, however, will still have to wait. Mr. Jobs said that the video market works differently than the music market since CDs are already sold without copy protection, but commercial DVDs are not.
Although Apple is the first company to offer EMI's library without copy protection, it won't be the only one. EMI is offering its higher priced DRM-free music to other resellers as well. So far there is no word on which music download services will sign on.
Apple's place as the market leader in music downloads puts the company in a strong position to advocate DRM-free song purchases. Despite resistance from other labels, the deal with EMI may signal the beginning of the end for music copy protection.
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