Groups opposed to the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology awoke this morning to good news when record label EMI announced that it had made a deal with Apple to distribute its titles in the iTunes Music Store without copy protection software.
"Certainly this is a step in the right direction," Derek Slater, activism coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said.
"It is long past time that the record labels opened up."
Under the deal, Apple will sell EMI titles free of Apple's "Fair Play" copy protection software for US$1.29 (99p in the UK). The DRM-free songs are 25 to 30 percent more expensive than protected iTunes content, based on the UK and US pricing respectively. To make up for the higher price the music will be offered at a 256Kbps bitrate, up from the 128Kbps for protected iTunes content.
Users will be able to freely move the songs to 3rd-party devices and music players, rather than be locked into using iTunes or an iPod with the Fair Play DRM.
Defective By Design blogger Gregory Heller called the deal "groundbreaking." Heller sent Apple CEO Steve Jobs a jester's hat, along with a petition containing 6,000 signatures protesting Fair Play, when news of the deal with EMI broke.
"It's a good thing we didn't send the jester's hat to Steve Jobs," wrote Heller. "I guess we'll be sending a thank you letter with the open letter and over 6000 signatures."
EFF's Slater warns however, that the battle between consumer groups and music distributors is far from over. The activist expects that the offering will appeal to early adapters, but that the higher price will put the content out of reach for the regular consumer.
"I think overall the price point is too high for most consumers."
DRM activists hail EMI-Apple deal
By Shaun Nichols on Apr 3, 2007 11:24AM