EMI goes DRM free, and the 99 cent iTunes song begins to disappear

2 Apr

Reuters:

“Apple said iTunes would make individual tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29, 1.29 euros and 99 pence.”

I’m glad that EMI decided to sell digital music without DRM. No, seriously. It’s awesome.

But on the other hand:

Imagine if every car was built with an onboard computer that prevented you from driving it on certain streets. The auto manufacturers claim that while it may seem restrictive, this onboard computer is actually a feature that makes the whole car manufacturing and owning experience better for everyone.

Consumers become dissatisfied. They think to themselves, I own the damn car, I should be able to decide what streets to drive it on.

So then one of the car companies–let’s say Ford–announces that you can now buy a car that does not have the onboard computer built in. Plus, it’s faster than the old type of car. And it costs more.

Consumers might rightly ask, “Since it doesn’t cost you extra to not put the onboard computer in a car, why am I paying more?”

To which Ford might reply, “You’re paying for the extra speed and functionality.”

“But that’s functionality that ought to be part of the car to begin with. You sabotaged it, and now you’re selling it back to me like it’s an extra.”

“Okay, then you’re just paying for the extra speed.”

“I never asked for a faster car. Just one that drives where I want it to go.”

“Look, do you want a car that drives on every street or don’t you?”

My guess is that this is the end result of a lot of backroom dealing, where EMI would only agree to sell its music without DRM if Apple agreed to sacrifice its policy that every song on the iTunes Music Store would cost 99 cents, no more, no less.

Now that there’s a leak in the 99 cent dam, how long before every song is $1.29?

An even bigger cliffhanger: Will EMI take a step further and stop suing file-sharing music fans through the RIAA?

Via Defective by Design

UPDATE: Boing Boing has some more info. The price of DRM-free albums and music videos will not go up, and you can replace your old DRM’d tunes with shiny new ones by paying the difference!

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