Apple Unveils Higher Quality DRM-Free Music on the iTunes Store:
CUPERTINO, California—April 2, 2007—Apple® today announced that EMI Music’s entire digital catalog of music will be available for purchase DRM-free (without digital rights management) from the iTunes® Store (www.itunes.com) worldwide in May. DRM-free tracks from EMI will be offered at higher quality 256 kbps AAC encoding, resulting in audio quality indistinguishable from the original recording, for just $1.29 per song. In addition, iTunes customers will be able to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free versions for just 30 cents a song. iTunes will continue to offer its entire catalog, currently over five million songs, in the same versions as today—128 kbps AAC encoding with DRM—at the same price of 99 cents per song, alongside DRM-free higher quality versions when available.
“We are going to give iTunes customers a choice—the current versions of our songs for the same 99 cent price, or new DRM-free versions of the same songs with even higher audio quality and the security of interoperability for just 30 cents more,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year.”
We've been discussing pretty much exactly those two issues before - quality and DRM - and Steve Jobs' recent plea for DRM-free music had met many people's scepticism.
Although the increased price for the higher-quality and DRM-free music can surely be debated (and I hope will one day fall back to or below the current "standard" prices), I'd say this is a step into the right direction.
The question is how EMI's competition will react to this bold step into a new media distribution era; It may even have long-term implications for DRM in all kinds of media distribution.
DVDs are today practically DRM-free, if not exactly on the legal level; The draconic DRM on the new HD DVD / Blue Ray formats together with the severe consequences for the consumers is certainly a step into the wrong direction, and we may see the day when media distributors will acknowledge that you don't gag and strangle the people who are paying your salaries...