iTunes goes DRM-free

iTunes Music Store Finally Ditches DRM, Adds New Prices
January 06, 2009

After years of fits, starts, threats and ultimatums, Steve Jobs and three major labels have come to terms on a deal: Music will be available immediately on iTunes without DRM restrictions. Free of the limitations that currently restrict music playback to Apple products, the new plan will let consumers choose from three price levels instead of the 99-cent song model the store implemented on day one.

I have to say: it always seemed like DRMed music seemed like an impossible task. I understand why they wanted to do it: record companies make their money from music sales, music piracy is easy, and music sales have been on a downward trend for years. I don’t begrudge the music-industry’s desire to make money. They spend a lot of money promoting new artists. Most of those artists flop. And, now, thanks to piracy, they’re getting shrinking revenue on their successful acts. But, the problem is that so much non-DRM music is out there, that DRMing some of the copies has no effect. Stores still sell CDs, and those are DRM-free. But, once a consumer (any consumer) has a DRM-free copy, they can upload it to the internet, and now the internet has a copy. It’s absurd to sell half the music in DRM-free CDs and then think that adding DRM to the digital copies is going to have any effect on anything. If they really wanted to use DRM as a strategy in combating piracy, they would need to DRM every copy of a particular album (and even that would have problems – like the analog hole or hackers breaking the DRM).

It’s too bad we need to pay $0.30 per song to un-DRM music that we already bought. (I’d be more inclined to burn the music to a CD, and rip them back into mp3.)

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