Monday, January 7, 2008

DRM is Dead!

The final nail in the coffin for DRM (Digital Rights Management) came last Friday when Sony BMG announced it was moving to DRM-free music downloads. Sony BMG was the last of "Big 4" studios to defect and joins Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and EMI Music in offering unrestricted copyright-free digital music downloads. The news came just days after Warner Music Group announced that they are adding their DRM-free catalog of music to the Amazon MP3 store. This move will allow consumers to play their music on any portable music device without the restrictions of Apple's FairPlay DRM used for iTunes downloads.

Sorry for the pun, but this is a big bite out of Apple and as David Kravets of Wired writes, it will weaken Apple's hold on it's 80% market share of music downloads. To date Apple has sold an estimated 1 billion music downloads from it's iTunes music store. Back in April 2007, Apple announced that the entire EMI Music digital catalog would be available as higher quality DRM-free music downloads for $1.29/ea. I remember getting an email from the iTunes store asking if I wanted to pay the extra 30 cents per download to upgrade my music purchases to higher quality DRM-free. I just deleted the email. 

Now with Sony BMG defection, it's clear that the music studios want their piece of the pie and all four will now participate in Amazon and Pepsi's 1 billion song giveaway scheduled to launch Superbowl Sunday, February 3rd.

Read these stories for more information: