There have been a LOT of people wishing they could download Digital Rights Management-less (DRM-free) music. Steve Jobs wrote an open letter back in February asking that labels let Apple sell DRM-free music. Jobs said that Apple doesn't own or control any music on its iTunes Store so it must license the rights to distribute music from other, mainly the "big four" music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner, and EMI. And when Apple had approached those companies to license their music to distribute legally over the Internet, they were very cautious and required Apple to protect their music from being illegally copied. The solution was to create a DRM system, which envelopes each song purchased from the iTunes store in special and secret software so that it can't be played on unauthorized devices.
To prevent illegal copies, DRM systems must allow only authorized devices to play the protected music. Naturally, there are people out there who always figure out how to get around the "secret software" and there are many illegal copies floating around. Jobs discussed some alternatives for the future. One of the alternatives was to abolish DRMs entirely.
Well, MacRumors found out about Apple and EMI holding a joint press conference today to discuss "an exciting new digital offering." And it seems that MacRumors is now saying the event would revolve around the removal of Digital Rights Management (DRM) from EMI tracks in the iTunes store.
And as I'm writing this, Apple has had their meeting and there is now an Apple press release revealing everything.
We are going to give iTunes customers a choicethe current versions of our songs for the same 99 cent price, or new DRM-free versions of the same songs with even higher audio quality and the security of interoperability for just 30 cents more, said Steve Jobs, Apples CEO. We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year.
EMI and iTunes are once again teaming up to move the digital music industry forward by giving music fans higher quality audio that is virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings, with no usage restrictions on the music they love from their favorite artists, said Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group.
With DRM-free music from the EMI catalog, iTunes customers will have the ability to download tracks from their favorite EMI artists without any usage restrictions that limit the types of devices or number of computers that purchased songs can be played on. DRM-free songs purchased from the iTunes Store will be encoded in AAC at 256 kbps, twice the current bit rate of 128 kbps, and will play on all iPods, Mac® or Windows computers, Apple TVs and soon iPhones, as well as many other digital music players.
So, it looks like we'll be able to put our music on our Treos now! Cool! ;-)