iTunes to drop DRM

January 7, 2009 | 08:58

Tags: #aac #digital-restrictions-management #digital-rights-management #drm #ipod #itunes #mp3 #music-store

Companies: #apple

Owners of Apple's iconic iPod have been given a late Christmas gift this week with the news that the company is to drop all forms of DRM from its entire iTunes Music Library.

According to The Guardian, the company announced the move yesterday at the MacWorld conference. The move comes after Apple was able to secure a new agreement with the major record labels, including the right to set variable prices rather than a fixed per-song fee – something rivals such as Amazon's MP3 Store have been offering since the beginning.

Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple, said that he hopes “by the end of the quarter all 10 million songs will be DRM free in iTunes and iTunes plus.

With the removal of copy protection from the song library, the store immediately becomes more useful for anyone who doesn't own an iPod; tracks without DRM can be burned to CD or converted into different formats without the restrictions or loss of quality previously enforced by iTunes. Whether the move will be enough to tempt people away from the competing services offered by online retailers such as Amazon or Play – who already offer songs in the DRM-free and cross-platform MP3 format, often at prices cheaper than the 79p charged by iTunes – remains to be seen.

There's good news and bad news for anyone who has already built up an extensive library of purchased iTunes content: the good news is that Apple will be providing functionality to convert locked-down content to DRM-free versions; the bad news is that, according to CNet, a fee of 30¢ will be charged per song in addition to the money already paid for the purchase. For users who have a large collection, this could soon add up to a significant sum.

Pleased to see restrictive DRM dealt another deathblow in the marketplace, or is iTunes a poor option for anyone who doesn't own an iPod anyway? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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