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.

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In listening to music there are two parts. The performer, and the listener. Without the listener there is no incentive to create. Why then has the listener been left out of the discussion on music downloading? Why are the listeners treated as criminals? Music existed before the venues of stadium concerts, record companies and the mega dollars that they represent. Music will continue to exist without them. Shouldn't we allow the art form to evolve with technology and let the artist reach the largest audience that is possible?

Sent by Matthew L. Parets (pronounced: per - ets) | 1:47 PM | 4-4-2007

Apple's decision has two main problems. First off, they are still selling the DRM-less music in thier proprietary AAC format, which many portable players cannot play, rather than a more ubiquitous format like MP3. Secondly, no DRM scheme is unbreakable, and many of Apple's customers regularly work around the DRM on music they buy from iTunes. That being the case, many customers may not see the worth of an additional 30 cents per song, when they can get around the existing DRM for only 99 cents. Apple could avoid this by selling the congs for the same 99 cent price, rather than offering two different versions.

Sent by Sean Worle | 12:09 PM | 4-5-2007