Klaus
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DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Wed May 30, 2007 10:55 pm

As of today, titles owned by distributor EMI have become available on iTunes without DRM and at double the bit rate (256kbps instead of 128kbps) in unprotected AAC format. These titles should now directly play on non-iPod players as well and independent of central activation of computers (so far up to 5 computers and an unlimited number of iPods for Apple's DRM). "iTunes Plus" downloads require the new iTunes version 7.2 and the store account needs to be enabled for "Plus" purchases.

Smaller distributors had already offered DRM-free downloads before, but only for much smaller catalogs than the one EMI holds. Other digital distributors have also begun to offer EMI tracks without DRM.

For me personally this makes digital downloads finally competitive with uncompressed and DRM-free CDs. 128kbps is much better than MP3 at the same bit rate, but still not something I'd prefer over a CD. With 256kbps and no DRM the picture changes, however. At 1.29$/€ vs. 0.99$/€ (german € prices include 19% VAT) the price is generally acceptable as well. Already purchased titles can be "upgraded" at the nominal price difference, complete albums come at the old price at the better quality (and can also be "upgraded" if applicable).

This may be the beginning of the end of the largely failed attempt to control the market via DRM. At the same time, the DVD DRM ("CSS") is about to be declared not to be an "effective encryption system" and thus may lose its legal restriction power. HD DVD / Blue Ray are still trying to impose the worst-ever DRM on the entire reproduction chain, but apparently the encryption is already beginning to fail even before it gains widespread market acceptance, not least due to major technical and usability problems caused by its ill-conceived DRM.

I hope the other major music labels will follow the lead of EMI and allow the DRM-free online distribution of their catalogs as well, but we're certainly not there yet.

So what do you think? Will this impact the way you acquire your music?

For those who already bought iTMS downloads: Will you "upgrade" those titles to the new, better quality?
 
aloges
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Wed May 30, 2007 11:00 pm

Quoting Klaus (Thread starter):
Will you "upgrade" those titles to the new, better quality?

I'm checking if I can (i.e., if it applies to my downloaded songs) as a type!  Wink Other than that, it depends on the cost and on the quality improvement which I'll try out of a few songs first.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
flynavy
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Wed May 30, 2007 11:00 pm

I will definitely consider it. I've bought so much music from iTunes though. Will they let you download uprated copies of all the music you've already purchased - I mean, is it retroactive, or just for new purchases?
Change is: one airline, six continents!
 
Klaus
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Wed May 30, 2007 11:20 pm

Quoting Flynavy (Reply 2):
Will they let you download uprated copies of all the music you've already purchased - I mean, is it retroactive, or just for new purchases?

If the same titles are now available in the new format (which currently applies to the ones by EMI and probably soon to some of the indie distributors as well), you should be able to upgrade all of them, regardless of the purchase date.

From the press release Apple Launches iTunes Plus:

Quote:
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 the higher quality iTunes Plus versions when available. In addition, iTunes customers can now easily upgrade their library of previously purchased EMI content to iTunes Plus tracks for just 30 cents a song and $3.00 for most albums.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Thu May 31, 2007 12:49 am

Quoting Klaus (Thread starter):
So what do you think? Will this impact the way you acquire your music?

Not really. I've only bought a few things off the iTMS when I just wanted a single track--perhaps a dozen files so far. I don't think the quality compares to a CD unless you're listening through headphones, which I rarely do. I'll still buy CDs for things I really want.
International Homo of Mystery
 
aloges
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Thu May 31, 2007 8:30 am

OK, I tried it out after downloading iTunes 7.2 via my snail-speed internet connection. As expected from iTunes, everything went flawlessly and the explanations on "iTunes Plus", which is the upgrade function, were short and precise.

When all is set and ready, you simply go to the iTumes Music Store, click on "iTunes Plus" which is easily distinguishable due to its "new" sticker and the page you get to already shows you how many songs you can upgrade and how much it will cost. A few more clicks, and you've gone through a list of the songs, the confirmation that you want to upgrade and will be billed for it, a note recommending to check back as more songs will be available in iTunes Plus and downloading the (large) new files. You can choose if you want the old DRM-infested files in your recycle bin or in a folder on the desktop.

The quality is somewhat better, but of course not a stunning improvement over the good files you had before. The real treat is that even the stupid Windows Media Player played the file without complaint, just like my mobile phone. I deactivated my iTunes account on my PC and tried playback of the new files, and sure enough that also worked. All in all, I think this is a fair deal - and hopefully the first nail in the coffin for that disgrace called DRM. Now, if only they sold CDs without it... I might even go back to buying them!  Wow!
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
Klaus
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Thu May 31, 2007 8:39 am

Quoting Aloges (Reply 5):
All in all, I think this is a fair deal - and hopefully the first nail in the coffin for that disgrace called DRM. Now, if only they sold CDs without it... I might even go back to buying them!

I haven't bought all that many CDs recently, but so far I have yet to encounter one with any kind of effective DRM...

I guess after the Sony root kit fiasco (Windows malware was intentionally added to some Sony CDs - the ensuing litigation wave led to a highly embarrassing settlement) they're probably treading a bit more lightly now...!  mischievous 
 
aloges
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Thu May 31, 2007 8:47 am

Quoting Klaus (Reply 6):
so far I have yet to encounter one with any kind of effective DRM

 rotfl  Stands to reason... but I still don't see the point of buying non-standard and - basically - incompatible CDs if all I really want is a lack of hassle getting the music on my iPod.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 6):
I guess after the Sony root kit fiasco

I still can't wipe the smirk off my face whenever I think of that.  devil 
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
N231YE
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Thu May 31, 2007 9:06 am

When more songs become available, I'll look and see. I may upgrade the songs I really like, however, many of my most favorite songs iTunes doesn't even have. Therefore, I bought some of the CDs and have "ripped" the songs to my HD using the Apple Loseless format.
 
Klaus
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Thu May 31, 2007 9:11 am

Quoting Aloges (Reply 7):
Stands to reason... but I still don't see the point of buying non-standard and - basically - incompatible CDs if all I really want is a lack of hassle getting the music on my iPod.

Sure... but as far as I've heard, stores usually take those back since they

a) aren't really CDs since they violate the official specifications with the DRM

b) often won't even play in many commercially available CD players (such as car units, for instance)

Quoting Aloges (Reply 7):
I still can't wipe the smirk off my face whenever I think of that.

I'm sure the worldwide gloating eruption in the wake of the scandal made a significant contribution to global climate change...! Big grin


One important caveat deserves to be noted, by the way:

Even thought the DRM-free titles are allegedly not watermarked, they most certainly contain both the buyer's name and his iTunes Store account ID (usually the mail address) in clear text. This is also apparent when invoking the information dialog for such a title.

I don't have a problem with that, but people thinking about sharing those files indiscriminately might want to think again.

The music labels will almost certainly scan P2P content for such signatures, so why take chances?
 
D L X
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Thu May 31, 2007 9:23 am

I still don't think that 33% is a "nominal" increase. It would cost me about $300 probably to upgrade my music.
 
Klaus
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Thu May 31, 2007 9:32 am

Quoting D L X (Reply 10):
I still don't think that 33% is a "nominal" increase. It would cost me about $300 probably to upgrade my music.

I was referring to the upgrade price... which indeed is exactly as much as the difference between the two price levels without an extra upgrade markup.
 
aloges
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Thu May 31, 2007 11:00 pm

small addition, which is somewhat related: iTunes Agent

That is a nifty little bit of software that lets you synchronise non-iPod MP3 players with iTunes. I tried it out with my phone, which I use instead of the iPod on short hops around town, and after just a little tweaking of settings here and there it works quite fine. With DRM-free music, that comes in really handy.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
N231YE
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:55 am

Well, only 4 of my songs were upgradeable. Two of the songs downloaded, and the quality is far superior. The other two songs seem to not want to download. Oh well, I'll keep trying.

--------------------------------------------------------------

KLAUS, ITS THE END OF THE WORLD!!  wink  Bill Gates and Steve Jobs sitting together:



http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/31/te...800&en=ce2398324844b752&ei=5087%0A
 
aloges
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:11 am

Quoting N231YE (Reply 13):
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs sitting together:

...and look at their faces!  rotfl 
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
IFEMaster
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:29 am

Quoting Aloges (Reply 14):
...and look at their faces!

And look how they are leaning away from each other. Those are forced smiles if ever I saw one!
Delivering Anecdotes of Dubious Relevance Since 1978
 
GoAround
Posts: 590
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Fri Jun 01, 2007 4:32 am

Anybody else finding a few of the downloads (upgrads) realllllly slow?
GoAround
 
aloges
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Fri Jun 01, 2007 4:54 am

Quoting GoAround (Reply 16):
Anybody else finding a few of the downloads (upgrads) realllllly slow?

I did notice that the iTunes store was a bit difficult to reach, but as for the downloads, my...

Quoting Aloges (Reply 5):
snail-speed internet connection

...makes me sort of immune to slow servers anyway.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
DeltaAVL
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:15 am

ARRRGH!! They don't have ANY of the 110 songs that I've purchased available for upgrade. WTF?

 hissyfit 
"We break, We bend, With hand in hand, When hope is gone, Just hang on." -Guster
 
Klaus
Topic Author
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:36 am

Quoting N231YE (Reply 13):
KLAUS, ITS THE END OF THE WORLD!!     Bill Gates and Steve Jobs sitting together:

Hard to believe the time-space continuum didn't just tear apart! Big grin

The exchange was actually rather civilized and not a catfight at all. They were mostly reminiscing about the past.

The full set of 7 videos can be viewed here.

I think some of the reasons why Microsoft and Apple developed very differently are clearly visible in the interview.

Quoting GoAround (Reply 16):
Anybody else finding a few of the downloads (upgrads) realllllly slow?

Indeed, but after the initial onslaught nearly put the servers to a halt the situation appears to be improving again by now.
 
Klaus
Topic Author
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RE: DRM-free Music Downloads Now Widely Available

Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:44 am

Quoting DeltaAVL (Reply 18):
ARRRGH!! They don't have ANY of the 110 songs that I've purchased available for upgrade. WTF?

At this point only the EMI catalog is available DRM-free (or is still in the process of becoming available); Many independent labels will probably follow suit. The interesting question is if and when the other major labels will finally get on board. At this point they're still refusing to cooperate.

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