NPR logo More on "Free" Music

More on "Free" Music

EMI Music's decision to drop the digital rights management software from its music catalog will be picked over by techheads for weeks. Is it good for downloaders? Bad? Does it make any difference at all? Well, to read the tealeaves: yes, yes, and a resounding... maybe. Some in the know come down hard on EMI and on Apple, whose iTunes will sell the initial DRM-free songs. They're not happy that individual DRM-less tunes will cost more (by about 30 cents), and consider this announcement more marketing than major change. Which may be true. But, this is clearly a first step in the open music direction, and consumer-oriented trends are hard to stop. Consider: in February, Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, called for music labels to open up their DRM; last month, David Byrne, the former front man for the Talking Heads, made his own plea for tearing down the DRM wall; and now, a large label like EMI puts its money where its mouth is and busts the rights management model wide open. A music miracle, it's not. But, the anti-DRM camp can't help but see a little light at the end of the music download tunnel.