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Microsoft Set to Unlock EMI Songs, Too

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the very-brave-new-world dept.

Microsoft 171

linumax writes "Microsoft has stated that it may be close to reaching a deal with EMI to sell songs without anti-piracy protection via the Zune platform. This, from comments made by head of marketing for Zune Jason Reindorp. They come hard on the heels of EMI's announcement that a deal with Apple to sell songs without DRM protection through the iTunes Music Store has been struck. Mr Reindorp said: 'We've been saying for a while that we are aware that consumers want to have unprotected content. This does open things up a little bit. It potentially makes the competition more of a device-to-device or service-to-service basis, and will force the various services to really innovate.'"

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not only that .. (5, Funny)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633407)

Not only that but they innovated the idea before Apple ever did !!

Re:not only that .. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633501)

haha. you funny!

A MS Strategic Meeting (5, Funny)

AVee (557523) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633683)

Hi, i'd like to welcome you all to our monthly bussiness strategy meeting. The agenda of this months meeting is basically the same as last month:
1. What has Apple been doing this month?
2. What has Google been doing this month?
3. Are there other interesting things to copy?

Re: (3, Insightful)

EonBlueTooL (974478) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635177)

Because apple/google(or $random_company) have never been guilty of copying something other companies are doing. Shouldnt that be the secondary focus of EVERY company? What is the competition doing and how can we do it better?

Re:not only that .. (0, Troll)

Vulva R. Thompson, P (1060828) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633863)

Not only that but they innovated the idea before Edison [wikipedia.org] ever did !!.

Just like they invented the GUI (3, Funny)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634401)

Apple was the first company that ever offered DRM-free downloads, right?

Re:Just like they invented the GUI (2)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635249)

Of course! Remember, you have to sell something WITH DRM first, and then you can claim it's DRM-free. Otherwise, it's just a file.

I just threw up on my socks again... (1)

realkiwi (23584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635335)

... each time a marketing creep from MS inovates some sentence! When will it end!

Splendid! (1, Funny)

LordPhantom (763327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633413)

Now, let's hope the albums cost less than the current store CDs, given the reduced material and sales costs. I'm sure that's what will happen, right?

Re:Splendid! (0, Troll)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633525)

Convert your CDs to ogg. PirateBay is the real player in the future music market. The whole online music sales business does not work.

Re:Splendid! (2)

maestro371 (762740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634313)

Not sure if I'm feeding a troll, but that's an excellent idea. Since the current business soaks so much up in administration and passes so little on to the artists, let's go ahead and eliminate profits for anyone altogether. That'll fix it.

Re:Splendid! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18635129)

Although parent was meant to be sarcastic, I agree with it 100%. Profit, patents, and capitalism are evil. Solution? Eliminate them and force everyone to a communist based economy. COMMUNISM FTW!!!!!!!!!!!

Price comparison (2, Informative)

AlpineR (32307) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634445)

Some facts to accompany your quip:

Coldplay's album "X&Y" is an EMI release.

Full album from iTunes Store = $11.99
Full album from Amazon = $11.97 + S&H
Full album from Best Buy = $13.99 in store
Full album from Caiman via Amazon Used & New = $11.93 with shipping

Sure iTunes isn't the absolute cheapest way to get it, but the tradeoff of price/convenience seems reasonable to me. Get it within minutes from iTunes, or pay $2.00 more and pick it up at Best Buy, or save $0.06 and get it in a few days from Caiman. I never thought the cost of the physical media was ever a big factor in the price of music.

AlpineR

Re:Price comparison (1)

Clock Nova (549733) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634665)

Actually, when you factor in the shipping and handling, iTunes is the cheapest place to buy it.

Re:Price comparison (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635157)

Try again.

Re:Price comparison (3, Insightful)

animaal (183055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635317)

Sure iTunes isn't the absolute cheapest way to get it, but the tradeoff of price/convenience seems reasonable to me.
I would have thought that until recently, but now I appreciate having:

1) lossless sound encoding on my good audio equipment
2) a physical backup, also lossless
3) an asset that can be re-sold when I no longer want it.

The way I look at it, with a CD I get all three of the above, and it costs no more than a lossy data file from iTunes that can't be re-sold.

So the question is... (4, Insightful)

romanval (556418) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633419)

would they have do so even if Apple didn't convince EMI to drop DRM?

I think not.

Re:So the question is... (-1, Flamebait)

MSFanBoi2 (930319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633897)

Apple did NOTHING to convince EMI to drop DRM...

When people say stuff like this, you are playing right into Apple's plans, and for that they charge you an extra .30 for the "right" to use non-DRM music...

Re:So the question is... (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635617)

Apple did not convince EMI to drop DRM.

EMI convinced Apple to drop DRM on its tunes.

Apple then decided to charge extra for the convenience, by coupling it with a higher bitrate.

Time to ... Wait! (1)

webword (82711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633431)

Like all Microsoft products, it will blow chunks until 3.0 so keep waiting. It has nothing significant to offer over iPods, let alone 90% of the more recent non-Apple players. This just isn't all that important in the world of music hardware...

Re:Time to ... Wait! (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633809)

Like all Microsoft products, it will blow chunks until 3.0 so keep waiting.

I agree, although I would be more inclined to say that, like the vast majority of Microsoft products, it will always blow chunks. Worse, because Microsoft is kow-towing to the media companies, it will probably always be more restricted than competitive products.

It has nothing significant to offer over iPods, let alone 90% of the more recent non-Apple players.

Dead on. As a "recent non-Apple player" owner, I have a SanDisk Sansa. Is it as polished as a Nano, say? No, not even close ... but it was $69, has a gig of flash, equalizer, supports MTP and MSC protocols, supports drag and drop from Windows (doesn't need a proprietary application, which was important to me), has an FM radio and a nice GUI, works as a flash drive and a voice recorder, and so far has played everything I've thrown at it. The thing runs for over twenty hours on a single AAA and I haven't managed to scratch it yet.

So somebody tell me again why I need a Zune? Or an iPod? I suppose if I were interested in portable video I'd feel differently, but as it happens I'm not. I just want to tuck the thing in a pocket and listen to my music.

Re:Time to ... Wait! (2, Funny)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634237)

Like all Microsoft products, it will blow chunks until 3.0 so keep waiting.

That's completely untrue.

Word blew chunks until 6.0

Re:Time to ... Wait! (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634823)

3.11 to be exact then it'll take until 4.5 to be really good.

RIP DRM? (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633435)

Man, I hope so. That makes two very important gadget co.s and one major label...

Part of me wants to continue boycotting their stuff anyway, as punishment for years of bad behavior

Here's what I see... (5, Interesting)

foodnugget (663749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633451)

So there are a few directions this could take, here's the ones i can think of:
1) They unlock certain songs, and shortly thereafter, claim these songs are now more-heavily pirated, and use it for justification to sell more DRM to recording agencies
2) Same as #1, except they claim the songs are not selling better, and declare that DRM isn't an obstruction
3) they still include some kind of DRM but call it something else
4) They've actually seen the light, and are now going to try to innovate instead of regulate.
Did I miss any?
P.S. I don't have a lot of confidence in 4).

Re:Here's what I see... (4, Insightful)

RDW (41497) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633519)

5) They release the tracks as unprotected (but iPod-incompatible) WMA and find they don't sell any better, then claim that consumers aren't really interested in DRM-free tracks.

Re:Here's what I see... (1)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633611)

EMI ran a test with DRM free tracks last year and found users preferred DRM free 10 to 1... ... sounds like a commercial but I read that in an article the other day...

Re:Here's what I see... (1)

Vulva R. Thompson, P (1060828) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634149)

Knowing the RIAA constituents, your comment should be modded "+1 Yeah, they'd probably try that".

.wma in iTunes (1)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634683)

5) They release the tracks as unprotected (but iPod-incompatible) WMA and find they don't sell any better, then claim that consumers aren't really interested in DRM-free tracks.

I've never needed to try this, because I haven't used .wma in a long time, but I'm pretty sure that iTunes will convert non-DRM'ed .wma's to AAC or mp3, possibly even without any user interaction if you try to put them on the iPod. Can anybody verify that?

Re:.wma in iTunes (2, Informative)

Monsterdog (985765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635267)

iTunes will indeed convert unprotected .wma files to your choice of AAC or MP3, using the quality levels you set for CD ripping. There's also a number of conversion utilities around that will do the job as well. I'll be shocked if Microsoft abandons their PlaysForShit scheme altogether. If that happens it might have a cascade effect and cause all but the monthly fee setups (such as Napster and Rhapsody) to follow suit -- after all, who wants to see their sales go completely to shit because nobody wants to buy DRM crippled tracks? It could also be good for eMusic. It might make more labels willing to license their catalogs through them. I wouldn't be surprised to see eMusic add a new level, if that's the case, where specific albums command a higher price point, while the majority of back catalog travels under their current (raised) pricing.

Re:.wma in iTunes (1)

Carrot007 (37198) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635467)

It's really sad the ammount of people that think converting one lossy format to another is something reasonable to do.

I wish it were just windows users but I see people thinking it's sane on the mac as well, hey mac people were known to burn the drm'd aac to disk and re-rip to remove he drm.

Personally I'll only buy music off the ne when it comes in lossless format. And then I can convert/compress for my player and still get a decent sound.

The number of people who find 128 kbps mp3 resonable still kind of scares me.

I think a pop up dialog should happen to inform the user they are doing something stupid every time they try to do a lossy -> lossy conversion!

Re:.wma in iTunes (3, Informative)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635673)

I think you're missing something. Not everyone can really hear the difference. It may be obvious to you, but not to everyone else. Just be happy you have good hearing. Or feel cursed because only you and a few other % of the population qualify as "audiophiles" that would notice.

Re:.wma in iTunes (1)

RDW (41497) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635481)

Yes, it will:

http://www.apple.com/itunes/hottips/ [apple.com]

Of course if you start with a lossy WMA you'll presumably get the usual additional loss of quality in transcoding to another lossy format This is a similar quality penalty to what you get when circumventing Apple's DRM via the 'burn to CD and re-encode route', but a bit more convenient, and possibly starting from a higher quality file if MS follows Apple in making its DRM-free stuff high bitrate.

Of course if MS is serious about selling music to anyone except Zune users, they might offer an mp3 option, and then perhaps we'll see a bit of competition on price (if the EMI deal allows enough of a profit margin). Presumably any other competing download stores that do a similar deal with EMI will be selling mp3s, and some will probably be happy to operate with pretty slim margins. We might even see 3rd party AAC downloads (expect AAC support in new hardware to be pretty much universal by the end of the year if the EMI iTunes 'experiment' is a success).

Re:Here's what I see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633653)

6) They've given up hope on software DRM and are planning to use Treacherous Computing instead.

Re:Here's what I see... (2, Insightful)

rilister (316428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635655)

ahh. The beautiful visual effects of the Slashdot reality distortion field.

so in the case of 2, what would we have to complain about? *If* people don't care and don't preferentially buy DRM-free, do you expect major labels to remove DRM restrictions despite the fact they would have proven that the market wasn't interested? They aren't sitting up in their offices working out how to make Slashdot-ters happy, y'know.

And even more telling, option 4 seems to define the word 'innovate' as 'do exactly what we want'. They sell music: they have relatively few options. With media, without. Without media options they've now tried: with copyright control, without and a subscription model. Even a micro-payment model assumes that they can measure and control the number of times you listen to a given track/file. Radio already exists: free access to music to 'test' (see Pandora, Last FM), which the labels noticeably haven't shut down (thanks to the DMCA, believe it or not).

How about proposing some new ideas? What innovation were you thinking of which isn't covered by what they are trying now? I'm genuinely curious...

Re:Here's what I see... (1)

wolvie_cobain (410751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635739)

Did I miss any?
5) ??
6) Profit!

right?

no thanks to MS (3, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633459)

It probably goes without saying, but this isn't some initiative on MS' part. It's riding Jobs' coattails, crying "me too!, me too!", as if MS is some kind of crusader for consumers' rights around music and DRM.

Interesting how MS plays this as "opening up" things for the consumer. We'll see. I wonder how much progress MS has really made unencumbering consumers' music.

  • have they opened up the wireless sharing at all (ahem, "squirting")
  • have the at least allowed for non-drm music to be shared indefinitely?

I don't hold my breath waiting for MS to do anything for me. I cringe they are jumping on this as a potential PR windfall for them and their Zune. Fortunately, the Zune was pretty much issued DOA, and this doesn't make a whit of difference.

Re:no thanks to MS (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633549)

Interesting how MS plays this as "opening up" things for the consumer. We'll see. I wonder how much progress MS has really made unencumbering consumers' music.

Even for Apple and EMI this isn't opening things up for anyone. It's charging more for the same fucking shit you would get from a CD while approaching or even surpassing the cost of the physical media while not having the physical media to keep or uncompressed and high quality audio.

I'm tired of this entire EMI thing. I'm not fucking impressed at all.

Re:no thanks to MS (5, Informative)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634463)

DRM-free albums (not individual songs) will still be $9.99 in iTMS. If you can always get major release CDs for less than that, you must have a relative who works for EMI or something. Sure, maybe it's technically lower quality - but I know I sure as hell can't tell the difference between 256 kbs and a CD (which I'd just rip anyhow).

Re:no thanks to MS (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18634759)

But in all honesty you weren't impressed by tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking and secure surfing, as of late last year, since you were still using Exploder 6.0.
Not only that, but you also thought that Microsoft's foray into the music market gave consumers freedom of choice.
From your insights into the mainstream tech, one would think you graduated from "Dvorak School of Technologist Futurists Academics".
So, what fucking impresses you is not really all that relevant to most of us here.

Re:no thanks to MS (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635101)

But in all honesty you weren't impressed by tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking and secure surfing

You are just making stuff up now. I'm still not impressed by tabbed browsing -- it does nothing for me. Pop-up blocking is something I've never commented on. Secure surfing, are you fucking serious? I am a HUGE privacy advocate and believe whole heartedly in it -- don't make shit up you dumbass.

Not only that, but you also thought that Microsoft's foray into the music market gave consumers freedom of choice.

You must be confusing me with someone else. Apple doesn't give consumers choice and neither does Microsoft's DRM'd offerings.

So, what fucking impresses you is not really all that relevant to most of us here.

What impresses me is that you decided to post Anonymously like the fucking pussy you are instead of showing who you are.

Re:no thanks to MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18635553)

Post # (#10120144)
I don't care if they have the best software design in the world for their music store: if they don't have better hardware than the iPod, it isn't going to matter.

They have something MUCH better than Apple as far as hardware goes... Freedom of choice.


Also,

Exploder 6 != tabbed browsing, secure browsing, pop-up blocking.

Thanks for replying.

Re:no thanks to MS (1)

d0n quix0te (304783) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635307)

Mr LazyLightning this is LazyThinking at best...

First, ability to cherry pick and buy songs that you like is something that is not a product available on physical media such as CDs. Second iTunes does allow you to put tunes on a physical medium such as an iPod or a burned CD if you choose to do so.

Of course, this does not impress you because of the 20+ KHz frequencies that you can so clearly hear are getting cut out on the 256Kb AAC. And that makes you really upset....

Re:no thanks to MS (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633661)

The thing that I don't like is that they've been bending over backwards to give everything that copyright owners have asked for. The Zune was a stab in the back of all their PlaysForSure partners, they assumed they could get it right themselves and make their own walled garden.

As much as I didn't like how Apple did things, they did it a lot better and with very few restrictions in comparison. I really don't believe Steve Job's stated reasoning for not wanting to licence "FairPlay" either, people have managed to decrypt Apple's stuff despite not being a multi-party encryption scheme.

Re:no thanks to MS (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634159)

people have managed to decrypt Apple's stuff despite not being a multi-party encryption scheme

Not for the past year or so. The iTunes 6-7 AES-based scheme is unbroken, much to my dismay (of being able to buy stuff from iTunes and use it on my devices without taking a quality hit).

There's an attack against Windows to intercept the data stream, but that's not actually an encryption break.

Re:no thanks to MS (5, Informative)

badasscat (563442) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633935)

It probably goes without saying, but this isn't some initiative on MS' part. It's riding Jobs' coattails, crying "me too!, me too!", as if MS is some kind of crusader for consumers' rights around music and DRM.

I think you need to go back and read EMI's announcement [emigroup.com] . Some relevant quotes (emphasis added):

"From today, EMI's retailers will be offered downloads of tracks and albums in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of bit rates up to CD quality."

"EMI's new DRM-free products will enable full interoperability of digital music across all devices and platforms."

"Apple's iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) is the first online music store to receive EMI's new premium downloads."

EMI had always planned to make its catalog available to anyone that wants it, not just through iTunes and not just AAC files. The only exclusivity Apple ever had was in making the co-announcement.

Re:no thanks to MS (4, Interesting)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633973)

Actually, it's not even Apple's initiative. It's EMI's.

In interviews after the announcement EMI said it was them, not Apple, that initiated the push for DRM-free music. They had already experimented with smaller versions of the program in the past. Internal tests said their own employees preferred the option to buy DRM-free tunes.

I wouldn't be surprised if the timeline was: discussed it with Steve Jobs sometime in 2006, they were close to inking a deal, Jobs publishes his "Thoughts on Music", EMI and Apple push the new initiative. Jobs looks like a visionary, EMI looks like a marketplace innovator.

In other words, how Jobs usually plans things: to make it look most appealing marketwise.

Eew. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18634651)

Minds in the gutter are going to be thinking about Microsoft getting consumers to Open Up, Riding them, & Squirting.

Re:no thanks to MS (1)

clintre (1078849) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634809)

This was not an initiative by either M$ or Apple. Personally I know I will get reamed by the Apple fan boys on this, but Apple is every bit the evil empire M$ is. So to say M$ is riding coat tales, may be true in this instance, but to think Apple is any better. Only in a fan boys eyes. Apple is just by far better at PR and Marketing. They both want just one thing, more money and to squash the other players out there. Apple just knows how to do the dirty work and come out clean.

Re:no thanks to MS (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635155)

It probably goes without saying, but this isn't some initiative on MS' part. It's riding Jobs' coattails, crying "me too!, me too!", as if MS is some kind of crusader for consumers' rights around music and DRM.

This is especially funny as MS response to Steve Jobs' open letter about selling DRM-free music was basically that doing this would be irresponsible and that Microsoft is always adamant about protecting IP. A month later, they themselves announce that they too are going to do the self-proclaimed "irresponsible" thing, that is selling music without DRM.

Re:no thanks to MS (1)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635229)

> It's riding Jobs' coattails, crying "me too!, me too!", as if MS is some kind of crusader for consumers' rights around music and DRM.

Nor is this Steve Jobs idea. You think Steve Jobs cares about consumer rights? Do they let you run OS-X on commodity hardware? Do they license their DRM? These are the masters of lock-in.

Yahoo has been pushing the labels to sell unlocked content for years (mind you, maybe I'm naive to think that was anything more then PR). iTunes got it first because iTunes has all the power in this market and Yahoo (and even MS) don't matter.

So please, don't tell me that this is anyone's innovation.

Accuracy of title? (2, Insightful)

justinbach (1002761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633479)

What about "squirting" device-to-device? I didn't see anything about this in the article, but then again I didn't read it very carefully (this is /., after all...) I can only assume that because the Zune DRM-izes just about every song on your device when sharing, even those that you recorded yourself, EMI songs will probably still suffer from the 3-days/3-plays restriction...though I suppose MS could just argue that lifting the restriction would just encourage piracy.

Still, I don't think it's fair to call this DRM-free until all the digital rights management restrictions have been lifted.

What about what ol' BG said (5, Insightful)

Zetta Matrix (245803) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633481)

If I'm not mistaken, Bill Gates has paraded around in recent times saying that "customers want [DRM]"? It's ok to say you're wrong, Bill.

Just for the record (5, Informative)

Taagehornet (984739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633827)

If I'm not mistaken

But you are [techcrunch.com] (well, at least the real picture is a bit more muddled)

Gates said that no one is satisfied with the current state of DRM, which "causes too much pain for legitmate buyers" while trying to distinguish between legal and illegal uses. He says no one has done it right, yet. There are "huge problems" with DRM, he says, and "we need more flexible models, such as the ability to "buy an artist out for life" (not sure what he means). He also criticized DRM schemes that try to install intelligence in each copy so that it is device specific.

His short term advice: "People should just buy a cd and rip it. You are legal then."

Re:Just for the record (1)

Your Pal Dave (33229) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635239)

...the ability to "buy an artist out for life" (not sure what he means).
Probably something like "Buy him out, boys!" [wikipedia.org]

Indeed (2, Insightful)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633497)

Of course they're aware that that's what consumers want. I think it's also pretty obvious that they don't like it, though, because it goes against their traditional strategy of vendor lockin.

Re:Indeed (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633977)

It really must be hard for MS to go from a position of willingly forcing DRM onto consumers and then have to admit consumer don't want it when they backtrack to a certain extent.

I'm not holding my breath too much on any of the other DRM stuff. It isn't likely that MS would reverse a position on anything that didn't already have some viable competition involved. MS has been able to push the DRM from the aspect that they control the access users have and decided to create a business model out of that control. When Apple (or anyone who has enough recognition to do it) can compete, the focus has to go from what the copyright holder want to what the customers are willing to spend money on.

Since when? (4, Insightful)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633499)

'We've been saying for a while that we are aware that consumers want to have unprotected content.'

Since when? As far as I know, what they are trying is to provide the ultimate protection to content, from the file format [microsoft.com] to the media player software [microsoft.com] to the output hardware [microsoft.com] .

Unprotected Content (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633713)

I read that same phrase with skepticism too. It would be more accurate to say consumers want their content to "just work", and to work on all their devices. All the hardware and software restrictions only serve to lockout one type of person, the type willing to pay instead of pirate.

Re:Since when? (4, Informative)

tb3 (313150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633983)

Is this the same Jason Reindorp who said, "Mr. Jobs's call for unrestricted music sales was "irresponsible, or at the very least naïve," (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/07/technology/07mu sic.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5070&en=82b92ed0fed4782b& ex=1176004800 [nytimes.com] )?
This is just Microsoft spin at its quickest.
(Although he did also say, ""the stars were already aligning" to loosen the restrictions." (Ibid). Nothing like CYA.

Re:Since when? (1)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635291)

My understanding was that everyone knew customers wanted music without DRM...ummm you'd have to be completely stupid to think customers would want it, considering it provides them absolutely no value--I think the bigger deal was that the copyright owners wanted DRM, and the assumption was that the desires of the copyright owners overrode the desires of the customer from a moneymaking perspective.

Now that the eight Zune owners in the world... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633533)

...are done rejoicing, can we appropriately tag this article as irrelevant and slownewsday?

DRM on Wireless transfers? (1)

supremebob (574732) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633597)

I'm curious... Does this mean that EMI is dropping the DRM requirement on wireless Zune to Zune transfers as well? Without that insipid "3 day, 3 play" DRM rule, the wireless song transfer option on the Zune just became a hell of a lot more useful!

Of course, it would also make it a hell of a lot easier to pirate songs as well. Something tells me that the RIAA would never let this happen :(

In MP3? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18633677)

So can I buy them in MP3? You know, for my MP3 player.

I'm very happy for Zune Tune Bune and Fune users, but I have an MP3 player and I'd like to buy music in MP3 for it.

Re:In MP3? (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633741)

While i do object to microsoft's use of a proprietary format even for DRM free music... I don't object to Apple's, since AAC is a standard format, the only non standard component Apple used was the DRM, without that AAC is simply a newer and improved version of MP3.
If your player doesnt support it, there's nothing to stop you converting the file, although you will suffer a slight drop in quality due to transcoding and MP3 being an inferior format. Alternatively, you can wait for more players to support AAC, or buy an ipod which already does.

Jeez what is it with Apple and MS fanboys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18634349)

I want MP3s it's really simple, why does every one of you try to twist it into 'buy AAC' or 'buy WMA'

Re:Jeez what is it with Apple and MS fanboys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18635749)

And why do you have to try to force people into using yesterday's technology? The world does not revolve around you and does not owe you anything. Technology evolves and is not necessarily compatible with your old stuff, so either find your own way to be happy with your old stuff or buy a new product that's compatible with the newer technology.

AAC is better sounding than MP3 at the same bitrate, has a better tagging scheme, and millions of people have no problem playing AAC and ripping CDs into AAC. As a bonus for businesses, it does not cost a royalty per song.

Businesses compromise between offering what customers as a whole want and generating profits, not trying to make you happy at all cost. If you don't like it, don't buy. It's really that simple.

Cool! Next step: price (4, Interesting)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633687)

I went from buying about 10 CDs/month a few years ago to about 0 CDs/month because of RIAA tactics, the fact that buying spinning metal media discs is silly these days, and that the price was ridiculous. So I've got about 650 of those things in a closet, about the same bumber I had five years ago.

If I can buy uncrippled, high quality media files, I will. ~256K VBR mp3 is about the lowest I'll consider. Yes, I can hear the difference, consistently. Apple's 256K AAC should meet this spec, though I haven't listened to much AAC.

Now, it's time to optimize the price. I'm aware that the actual costs of distribution over the net is very low, and I don't care about marketing costs, because virtually nothing I listen to is marketed at all. I don't like being ripped off. $1/song is still a ripoff, but for uncrippled content I'll probably buy a few albums I've been wanting, just to encourage them.

But. At $.50/song and $5.00/album, I'd buy 100 albums today. I've got a five year backlog to catch up on. Probably be good for another 10/month, too.

Come on, music labels. Talk to your artists, see who's willing to experiment with the prices. Healthy industries with real competition experiment with prices to find the most profitable price points. You're pricing like a monopoly, but you're forgetting that we do have alternatives: Free legal music, free illegal music, boycott, video, games, books, etc. I suspect you'd make a lot more money if you weren't so greedy, scared, contemptuous and contemptible. Why not find out?

Re:Cool! Next step: price (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634297)

"the fact that buying spinning *metal* media discs is silly these days"

CDs are not metal =]

Re:Cool! Next step: price (0, Flamebait)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634513)

So since they're $10/album, are you going to buy 50 albums and 5 more each month?

Re:Cool! Next step: price (2, Insightful)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634655)

No, and if they were $100/album, I wouldn't buy 5 albums and one more every two months. I think that the field of economics has a term for this phenomenon. Maybe you could look that up. Or you could read my original post. This time see if you can't manage to glance at every sentence.

Re:Cool! Next step: price (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635205)

Seriously, though, I think $5/album is a bit of a pipe dream. You really think $10 isn't a fair price at all? How much did you pay per CD back when you were buying 10 a month?

Just The Price Of Higher Prices (4, Insightful)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633729)

I think that this is just more evidence that Apple's success with iTunes with respect to market share really put the record companies over a barrel. They've wanted to raise the price of tracks from 99 cents for a long time now, but apparently didn't have the leverage over Apple to make them do it. Without higher per track prices on iTunes, there was no way they could get it at any competitors, who were already at a huge disadvantage anyway.

So when Jobs started talking about removing DRM, probably not just a coincidence, it set the stage for EMI to offer DRM free tracks, but at a higher price per track. It looks as if stripping DRM was the price of raising the price per track. Perhaps the record companies are realizing that removing DRM is the only way in the near term of loosening Apple's grip on the digital music market. Of course it is interesting to note that the DRM-less tracks from iTunes will be in AAC format which, while other players can support it, will tend to keep most people in the iPod fold since converting to other formats like MP3 is a hassle most consumers would prefer not to be bothered with. So I would look for growth in the number of AAC supporting players.

Re:Just The Price Of Higher Prices (1)

pkulak (815640) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634415)

"Of course it is interesting to note that the DRM-less tracks from iTunes will be in AAC format which, while other players can support it, will tend to keep most people in the iPod fold since converting to other formats like MP3 is a hassle most consumers would prefer not to be bothered with."

Well, even the Zune supports AAC. It's more the _next_ format then Apple's format.

Someone tag this "Me too!" (5, Insightful)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633743)

Every time someone does something cool, Microsoft always has to chime in. It's like the annoying little brother who is always following you around; whenever you say anything, he always says "Me too!" and then goes on to explain how what he did is even better. For anyone who didn't have a younger sibling growing up, it's hard to overstate the annoyance factor.

Netscape revolutionizes the Web -- MS creates free Internet Explorer. OSX introduces Expose, the Dock, and Widgets -- four years later Vista "innovates" with duplicate features. Apple rakes in millions with the iPod -- Microsoft creates poo-colored, squirting Zune. Google goes IPO -- MS announces "all-new, improved, better-than-ever" MSN search. Apple announces DRM-free music -- you guessed it: Me too! Me too! Me too!

I don't hate Microsoft (though sometimes it seems like they work awfully hard to make people hate them) but I'm not buying their "We want to eliminate DRM too" PR either. Microsoft's media file format, software, hardware player, and store are all strong arguments that that's a load of monkey excrement.

Re:Someone tag this "Me too!" (1)

schnipschnap (739127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634627)

Disregarding the fact that doing as is stated in the title would generate two tags, I completely disagree. Damn them if they do, damn them if they don't, huh? I think that DRM should be abandoned as quickly as possible, and any step toward this goal should be greeted with respect.

On a different note, I don't understand why most people say that the Zune has the same feature-set as the iPod (or something along those lines). I'm not exactly a visionary, but I think adding Wifi-capabilities is pretty damn innovative. Even though they are limited at the moment. (Of course, I don't know whether they really innovated here, at least I haven't researched it further, or heard anything to the contrary.)

I'd say we undo the "metoo" tag by tagging this story "!metoo".

Re:Someone tag this "Me too!" (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635323)

I think that DRM should be abandoned as quickly as possible, and any step toward this goal should be greeted with respect.

I have a hard time respecting someone that forcefully argues that selling DRM-free music is irresponsible and naive, just to turn around next month to claim that the wanted to sell DRM-free music for quite some time.

Re:Someone tag this "Me too!" (1)

cmacb (547347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635127)

Every time someone does something cool, Microsoft always has to chime in. It's like the annoying little brother who is always following you around; whenever you say anything, he always says "Me too!" and then goes on to explain how what he did is even better.


That's an excellent analogy. I also know individuals who act like that and they always remind me of the liar guy that used to be on Saturday Night Live... the one who ended almost every sentence with "Yeah, that's the ticket". My first reaction is to wonder if the statement is true and my second is to think "so what?" Most noticeable regarding such individuals as well as such companies is that their actions are so predictable and obvious to those around them, but they don't seem to have a clue why everyone around them is snickering. I've noticed such people don't make friends very easily, and they never seem to figure out why. I guess that applies to companies too.

Good News but DRM is not "protection" (1)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#18633883)

Microsoft has hinted that it may be close to reaching a deal with EMI to sell songs without anti-piracy protection via its Zune platform.
Surely nobody still thinks that digital restrictions management provides "anti-piracy protection"? It's about control.
Even the MPAA knows that current DRM encourages piracy [freshdv.com] by making paid-for music more of a hassle.

Re:Good News but DRM is not "protection" (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634105)

Yeah, the article summary is totally NPOV...

It reads like a press release from Microsoft, and without having RTFA, I can't say whether or not it actually is.

Re:Good News but DRM is not "protection" (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634395)

I think "protection" as in "protection racket" is exactly the right term to use.

No surprise (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634013)

Microsoft in various media statements, has declared that if there is going to be piracy, they want it to be done on their platforms, and TO their platforms. Anything that keeps marketshare from competitors is a good thing, as far as they are concerned.

The truth is, were Linux accessible to the masses, Windows would be free.

catchup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18634055)

You would think MS would eventually get sick of playing catchup to Apple and other innovative companies and actually try innovating something themselves for a change.

Patent unprotected content! (1)

stampsc (924332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634087)

Then require DRM to ensure that this innovation protecting market driven idea is fully implemented.

Zune Wireless (2, Interesting)

PixieDust (971386) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634093)

One interesting way this could play out is taking the Zune's wireless sharing abilities from a sort of novelty "That's kinda neat" feature to something actually marketable (not to mention a legal quagmire for Microsoft). They sell unprotected music, with 0 DRM, and then people start sharing songs between Zunes like crazy. I had a Zune for a while, and loved it, it's actually a great little device. If MS would make a few tweaks to it's usability and features, it would really be a great product. It's already better than an iPod (imho) of what it can do, usability, and features. The real question, however, is if Microsoft is just changing to adapt to what is really becoming a truly consumer driven market, or if they're actually trying to go after Apple's complete dominance of the MP3 device market. Either way, should make for an interesting show.

I can't help but wonder when the first RIAA lawsuit is brought forth against Apple or MS for "Enabling Filesharing" by "Failing to protect copyrighted content". And then going after the HDD manufacturers for making access to the files so easy.

this is amazing news! (2, Funny)

syrinx (106469) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634107)

I'm having a hard time believing it, but apparently it's true....

Yes, I guess they are still selling Zunes.

Way to go, Metoosoft! (1)

woohootoo (904621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634121)

And thank you for advancing the cause of DRM-free music by paying that $1-per-Zune ransom to the music companies and pushing your proprietary WMV format.

The Me Too Argument (1)

Admodieus (918728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634141)

What did you want Microsoft to do when Apple made this announcement? Simply ignore it, and turn more people away from the Zune platform? They're doing what they have to in order to stay current with their competitors, which is what the Zune is all about. I know this is "me too", but can you blame them for wanting to stay a competitive force (however small they may be) to Apple?

Re:The Me Too Argument (1)

gsslay (807818) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634579)

The "Me Too" argument is the reverse side of the "Change your business model you dinosaur!" argument on the same coin. It didn't matter which way Microsoft had chosen to respond to this development. There would still have been posters on slashdot whining about it. Just. cos. it's. Microsoft.

Almost there (2, Interesting)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634183)

Give us lossless FLAK or WAVs and I'm sold. Enough of this lossy compression crap.

Re:Almost there (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634245)

Ya, mp3s can't touch 50~75meg wave files! Seriously though, I think I'll keep using mp3...

iPhone batteries "die in 40 minutes" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18634355)

iPhone batteries "die in 40 minutes"

Apple fanboys kill the messenger

By Nick Farrell: Friday 06 April 2007, 07:14

APPLE FANBOYS have really been going for hack John C Dvorak after one of his sources in Cingular told him the iPhone's batteries lasted just 40 minutes.
During Episode 93 of the spodcast this Week in Tech (TWiT)Dvorak said he received information from "a guy at Cingular who's testing the product." The unnamed, male Cingular employee told Dvorak "there's lots of issues" with the iPhone.

Dvorak said that the iPhone was blighted with not having a removable battery, so "you run 20 minutes and you're using up half the battery power. You get 40 minutes total talk time. And the interface fouls up constantly."

The Cingular geezer or geezerette asked Dvorak not to tell anyone. OK it is a "man in the pub told me" style story, but it does not mean that there is no truth behind it. Certainly it is an odd thing to make up.

But the fan boys are up in arms about the comment and every where the story appears on the interweb there is a diatribe from at least three fanboys about how unreliable Dvorak is as a reporter.

One post said that Dvorak had a background in news and was therefore not qualified to write about technical stuff. Others sited a 1991 prediction he made that didn't come true.

One poster said that if Steve Jobs said that 40 minutes on the phone was long enough to speak to someone that must be OK and he would curtail his usage immediately. Another added that if people used their phones longer than 40 minutes there must be something wrong with them.

More here: http://www.twit.tv/93 [www.twit.tv] [www.twit.tv] [www.twit.tv]

Major Mistake (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634373)

I think that this is a major mistake by EMI, Apple and Microsoft (particularly MS) as it has the possibility of seriously damaging relationships with vendors, manufacturers, RIAA and possible the MPAA, let alone US Government and the lobby group.

So much money and technology has been invested in DRM by major corporations to prevent piracy that this may lead to major problems and ethical considerations as well as corporate trust in MS.

I most certainly hope that MS knows what it is doing and not just a knee jerk reaction!

what about the mandatory DRM? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634465)

Wasn't the zune the device that added DRM to anything you put on it? Or was it just when you "shared" it (that 3-days, 3-plays thing)?

Great deal - get DRM free music from EMI. Put it on your zune - *bang*, DRM added. Another MS shoot-yourself-in-the-foot moment.

Re:what about the mandatory DRM? (1)

sonicbox (166944) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635719)

Sorry, Zune doesn't add DRM to any files or content. It plays unprotected MP3, AAC, WMA, WMA Pro... and WM-DRM WMA. It does have the 3-day/3-play limit on files you receive via the never used wireless sharing feature, though. (But the files still don't get "added DRM.")

Re:what about the mandatory DRM? (1)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635727)

Wasn't the zune the device that added DRM to anything you put on it?

I don't own a Zune, but I know they don't let you access files on it as a removable drive, and I don't know if they let you get files back off of it in the Zune software (I know iTunes doesn't let you get media back off of the iPod, but I hadn't heard either way on the Zune). So if the music gets put on the Zune, the only way to get it off is through the wireless sharing... If you can't get the music off of it, then it really doesn't matter if it adds DRM to the files, because those files won't be played anywhere else anyhow.

Unless by Zune, you're referring to the software which is used to manage the device... I guess the software could add DRM to the files on the harddrive of the PC, but I'm guessing it probably doesn't.

Whoops! Big problems for Microsoft (1)

qazwart (261667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634803)

Uh...

How does this move work with their monthly subscription service that is heavily dependent upon DRM? What prevents these people from paying $15, downloading the noncopy-protected songs, then simply dropping their subscription? Their songs will still play.

It was one of the main reasons Apple gave for not wanting to follow the subscription model.

This is just on the back of a rumor that Microsoft is planning to give out either a discounted or free Zune with a paid subscription to the Zune Market.

Microsoft just loves that word (1)

splatterboy (815820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18634835)

"...innovate" They keep using that word, I do not think it means what they think it means...

Appologies to Mr Montoya

squirting always uses drm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18635535)

since the squirting always drms, it doesnt matter even if your songs are public domain. the enuz player encumbers all music.

A new race is beginning (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18635695)

This will turn into a new race of online content distribution innovation apparently. Whoever jumps in the bandwagon will get miles ahead of their competition, who miss it will be forgotten.
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