Friday, August 10, 2007

2nd label goes for DRM-free

Friday, Universal Music announced that it, too, was going to try DRM-free music downloads. This follows EMI’s April announcement of its premium priced DRM-free downloads on the iTunes Store, that became available on May 30.

Interestingly, Universal is trying an experiment both for DRM and alternate sales channels. As Forbes reported:

Universal is shutting out Apple's iTunes Store from its trial run. Why? Because it wants to use iTunes as a control group against which to compare its sale of DRM-free downloads elsewhere.

Among the online vendors participating in Universal's test run will be, Wal-Mart, Google, Best Buy, Rhapsody from RealNetworks, Trans World Entertainment, Passalong Networks and Puretracks.
This is more than just a DRM experiment — Universal is trying how much traffic it can steer away from the iTunes Store, which accounts for about 70% of US downloads. And perhaps trying to get Apple’s attention. Of course, if it doesn’t dramatically shift traffic away from the iTunes Store, then Universal will have proven how dependent it is on Apple.

Meanwhile, at LinuxWorld, the FSFanatics were handing out stickers promoting their “Defective by Design” anti-DRM slogan. If DRM is so awful, then don’t buy it. But what gives a bunch of activists the right to ban a voluntary choice between content owners and their distribution channel?

Graphic credit: Free Software Foundation via Flickr.

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Alan Pritt said...

Although I dislike the fanatical attitude of the Defective By Design campaign, I do appreciate that there is a campaign against DRM. Many consumers are not aware of the protections until they've already bought the product and decide they want to change player, or make backups or whatever.

I'd be upset if their was a DRM ban by law. But raising awareness just seems sensible to me.

Joel West said...

I guess I almost agree. Full disclosure is something that every seller should do in order to make a fair and competitive market, and I supposed there are some not as techie as I who don’t get the lock-in that they’ve signed up for.

My problem is that they run it with the same shrill “life, liberty and free software” tone as the rest of their causes. I’m not sure if that’s because that’s how they have to motivate the mind-numbed robots (cf. ACORN) or they feel it’s necessary to exaggerate to get people’s attention and be heard above the clutter.

Most grown-ups know that you can’t just take your favorite CD and burn 20 copies for your friends. iTunes is one of the more reasonable trade-offs between IP owner rights and normal use — until you get to switching to a non-Apple player.