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Jobs gets his DRM-free wish
Over 50% of iTunes music to be DRM-free by year's end according to Steve Jobs

EMI has taken a huge step forward in the fight against digital rights management (DRM). The company announced today that its entire digital music library will be available with higher quality audio and will also be free of DRM.

The company first began tinkering with DRM-free music files in early December. At that time, EMI offered DRM-free music tracks by Lily Allen, Norah Jones and Relient K though Yahoo! Music.

Soon after Apple CEO Steve Jobs made his bid for a DRM-free music world, EMI once again batted around the idea of expanding its use of DRM-free music. Anonymous executives revealed that EMI was in talks with Apple, Microsoft, Real Networks and Yahoo! to provide unprotected music files.

Today's announcement could set the ball rolling for other companies to jump on the DRM-free bandwagon. "Our goal is to give consumers the best possible digital music experience. By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans. We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher quality tracks and listen to them on the device or platform of their choice will boost sales of digital music," said EMI Group CEO Eric Nicoli.

Seeing as how Steve Jobs has been one of the champions of DRM-free music, it's no surprise that he also had commentary on EMI's decision. "Selling digital music DRM-free is the right step forward for the music industry," said Jobs. "EMI has been a great partner for iTunes and is once again leading the industry as the first major music company to offer its entire digital catalogue DRM-free."

iTunes users will be able to purchase unprotected AAC format music files at 256 kbps (current music files are encoded at 128 kbps) for $1.29 a track in May from iTunes. Complete albums will also be available DRM-free, but will not feature higher price tags. Customers who have already purchased DRM-enabled music tracks from iTunes will be able to upgrade to the higher-quality, DRM-free versions for $0.30 per track. Tracks which still feature DRM will continue to be made available at $0.99 each.

In addition, EMI will make its music videos available on iTunes free of DRM. The prices remain unchanged for these files.

“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,” said Jobs.





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