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Sony Announces DRM-Free Music at Amazon

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the not-as-dumb-as-we-thought dept.

Sony 293

sehlat brings us a New York Times report that Sony has agreed to start selling DRM-free music from Amazon's MP3 store. This comes days after Sony revealed plans for physical MusicPass cards that would allow DRM-free access to a small portion of Sony's library. Now that all four major record labels are on board with Amazon, some are expecting Apple to make moves away from DRM as well. From the NYTimes: "Sony's partnership with Amazon.com also underscores the music industry's gathering effort to nurture an online rival to Apple, which has sold more than three billion songs through its iTunes store. Most music purchased on iTunes can be played only on Apple devices, and Apple insists on selling all single tracks for 99 cents. Amazon, which sells tracks for anywhere from 89 cents to over a dollar, offers the pricing variability the labels want."

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that didn't take long (-1, Offtopic)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996472)

well - it didn't.

Re:that didn't take long (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21996930)

Until music producers start using open source software to produce and mix music, I refuse to pay for it. The vast majority of studios use proprietary software that runs on Windows and Apple operating systems, and their music suffers for it. It is a sign of narrowmindedness and sheep-like thinking that is reflected in their art.

Go fuck yourselves (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21996480)

I hate you all.

Re:Go fuck yourselves (4, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996486)

i think we might be the only ones here right now. why don't we talk this over? i really think we still have a chance.

Re:Go fuck yourselves (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996568)

Hurry. Us Brits have just got into work.

Re:Go fuck yourselves (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996600)

he's not talking. but while you are here, let me just say that i love you guys. the football, the literature, the sitcoms. you all have done some great stuff. i know - there's lots more but that's what i see most often.
 
and you may gloat in your gmt, me being stuck in gmt -5 right now. but next week i'll be in gmt +1. we'll see who is who then, wont we?

Re:Go fuck yourselves (1, Troll)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996680)

Why thank you. I just hope that the BBC opens up the iPlayer to you guys in a reasonable manner. Of course, it is a truth that the U.S provides much of the best items of British television too. I expect we see just the best of what you have to offer, in the same way that you only get our best bits.

It's fashionable to bash the U.S at the moment, largely due to some of the ... questionable... policies of the current administration. But let's face it the U.S is still a scientific and cultural powerhouse.

Have fun in GMT +1 land next week - if you really want to get up that early, that's fine with me.

Re:Go fuck yourselves (3, Funny)

Bertie (87778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997226)

Man, I'm really feelin' the love in this room.

Re:Go fuck yourselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997344)

Someone forgot to take their Prozac this morning...

Satan just called... (3, Funny)

7Prime (871679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996498)

He wants to know why suddenly everything down there is now... FROZEN!

Re:Satan just called... (2, Funny)

Faylone (880739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996784)

There's gotta be a warm spot somewhere, Duke Nukem Forever still isn't out.

Free market (5, Insightful)

SpectreBlofeld (886224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996516)

Those of you who feel that the free market has no recourse against the large corporation and cartel, take note - this is the voting power of your dollar at work. Or, the lack of the dollar thereof, specifically.

It didn't take dismantling of the RIAA, court-ordered cessation of their ridiculous lawsuits, or legislative intervention to protect the consumer - it took your disillusionment with the industry and unwillingness to part with hard-earned cash to pay for crippled formats and less freedom with the content you purchased.

The next step will be the determining factor in the future of media sales. Will you buy MP3s, unrestricted, for a reasonable price? Or will you continue to download it for free via Limewire?

Option A will reinforce a reasonable business model that will benefit the industry, the artist, and you.

Option B will reverse the progress that has been made.

Choose wisely, Indiana Jones...

It also took Apple (4, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996588)

Apple had become too powerful and arrogant, so basically the labels had become more scared of Apple than of the consumers.

Re:It also took Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997546)

Which is, incidentally, something everyone should be aware of--if, by selling DRM-free everywhere but on iTunes, the labels break the back of the iTMS/iPod powerhouse (not saying I think it's likely, but if it happens), what will be stopping them from bringing DRM right back with more interoperability requirements?

(I'm still weirded out by the fact that they've managed to create a situation where interoperability is worse than noninteroperability.)

Re:It also took Apple (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997578)

Shush Mr Firewire, you know fine that everyone wants USB these days! While your insight and better technical prowess is impressive, the free market has spoken. Farewell.

Re:Free market (4, Insightful)

Moonpie Madness (764217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996612)

Such a great point.

But some will believe that music isn't worth their money, but is worth the effort to torrent. they will claim that they are just not willing to reward the awful quality of music with their money, rather than complaining about money.

Or, of ocurse, they will claim that the formats you can buy just aren't good enough. They will want lossless.

But, like you say, if sales of music don't pick up, and piracy doesn't decline, some in the industry will exclaim that DRM must return. Not sure that this affects the pirates very much.

Pirates: at least remove all the tags, etc, so it's not too obvious that files you share came from DRM-free stores.

Re:Free market (3, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997600)

This is true though. Unless the MP3s are 192kbps as I rip all my CDs at, I'm going to keep buying CDs rather than just downloading. I also like to have CDs anyway to play in the car (maybe my next car will have an MP3 player, but I dont want to bother spending any money upgrading my current one, a 6 CD changer is enough for me right now..). Not everyone who doesn't choose to download this will be a pirate, but I am tempted to buy some albums just to show my support for the lack of DRM..

Re:Free market (0, Troll)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997622)

Wake me up when mp3's are 4 cents a song.  Then that'll be a value proposition I can go for.

After all, then I'll just pay 4 cents every time I want to hear a song, which is an appropriate payment for the small service they provide me.  Why does anybody want to keep this stuff on their hard drive?  It's just another thing to back up.

Hell, I own every Led Zeppelin studio album.  But when I want to hear a song of theirs, I just download their whole catalog off a single torrent, listen to what I want to hear, then delete the whole thing again to save disk space.  No biggie.

I'll pay you 4 cents to keep the right tracks in a constant volume and perfect availability for me.  That's the value you provide...and nothing else.

I daresay those fuckers will end up making much more this way, however.  Not that the stupid sons of bitches deserve it.

Re:Free market (4, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996646)

I've already purchased from Amazon, but I won't buy from iTMS for a few reasons:

1) Amazon has more attractive prices (generally $8 for a CD)

2) It's in MP3. I think non-DRM's AAC files are fine, but MP3's are more desirable.

3) Amazon just downloads the stuff to your hard drive. It feels just like a purchase.

All that said, CD's are more desirable, and if purchased used are a better value (they can be legally resold). But the Amazon model is the first electronic system to be interesting enough for me to pay money for it.

Re:Free market (2, Informative)

ljaguar (245365) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997084)

"3) Amazon just downloads the stuff to your hard drive. It feels just like a purchase."

what do you think iTunes does? it also just downloads the stuff to your hard drive.

Re:Free market (1)

Bob[Bob] (60151) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997296)

2) It's in MP3. I think non-DRM's AAC files are fine, but MP3's are more desirable.

Whuh? Why would you prefer MP3 over AAC? Are you still using a Diamond Rio or something? :-)

Re:Free market (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997380)

AAC's or MP4 are just the next evolution of the MP3.

The only reason more people can't pay them is because they tried to play WMA's more figureing on MSFT to win the DRM war.

Apple doesn't mind losing this part. as more iPods can be sold.

Re:Free market (4, Informative)

Steve001 (955086) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997426)

Bob[Bob] wrote and included with a post:

2) It's in MP3. I think non-DRM's AAC files are fine, but MP3's are more desirable.

Whuh? Why would you prefer MP3 over AAC? Are you still using a Diamond Rio or something? :-)

The main reason I can think of for preferring MP3 over AAC: Just about every compressed audio player will play MP3 files. Although the number of players that will play AAC file is increasing, it will be a long time before it will approach the number that can play MP3.

I have many devices that will play compressed audio files (including my computer). All will play MP3, five will play WMA, two will play AAC, and two will play ATRAC.

One of the main advantages AAC has over MP3 is better sound quality at a lower bitrate. For me, encoding my MP3 files at a 192 bitrate gives me good sound quality, and I don't mind the extra space it take to store the files. I might save space using AAC but the files will only play on a limited number of devices.

Re:Free market (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997490)

Why would you prefer MP3 over AAC? Are you still using a Diamond Rio or something?
I don't listen to country [wikipedia.org] . The point is that a lot of portable players can play MP3, WMA, and nothing else. Apple iPod players can play AAC without DRM, and many that also play MPEG-4 ASP or H.264 video can, but others cannot. This is due to both a limited silicon budget for decoders and a limited patent royalty budget for decoders.

Re:Free market (2, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996672)

The next step will be the determining factor in the future of media sales. Will you buy MP3s, unrestricted, for a reasonable price? Or will you continue to download it for free via Limewire?

I'll continue to download the albums, listen to them and then either buy the CD (if I liked the album) or delete what I downloaded (if I didn't).

Re:Free market (0, Redundant)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996688)

...this is the voting power of your dollar at work

I dont think thats true. I think it was more the stubbornness and vendor-lock-in of the ITMS, and that this is a response of the labels to attempt to reduce Apples power (and hence increase their own power).

If there was only one shop that sold to consumers, and they insisted on a reasonable price, there isnt much the labels could do about it. If there are many shops, the labels could threaten to cut them off - that ol divide and conquer thing...

Re:Free market (2, Interesting)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996710)

I'm holding out for FLAC. Then we'll talk.

Re:Free market (1)

alx5000 (896642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997308)

They don't want you to have FLAC. They don't want you to notice that, due to their compression levels, and to the quality of the songs themselves, you would hear the same were they to provide a zipped 16 bit 48Khz wav file...

Good, for everyone, except Abble (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996724)

This is actually good. Hopefully this will be the beginning of the end of the evil Abble music empire.

Re:Free market (1)

cthellis (733202) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996730)

Actually, it took Apple taking the reins first before the labels knew what was what, and developing a healthy service to go with their massively popular devices to be a threat to them, thereby forcing their hands.

Without that, do we honestly think the labels would have dropped their ever-wanting-more-draconian DRM stance?

Reasonable pricing (2, Insightful)

Walles (99143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996794)

Will you buy MP3s, unrestricted, for a reasonable price?

Of course, but remember that the definition of "reasonable" is that the price is something both seller and buyer will agree on.

Until the current pricing has proven to actually be reasonable, nobody knows if we're there yet. The "reasonable" price for a song could very well be $0.01 per song, and then the current uncrippling of extremely over-priced songs wouldn't prove anything.

Re:Free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21996890)

too bad the Apple store only works in the US or Japan.

the rest of the world still has to use Limewire or the like.

Re:Free market (3, Insightful)

Humm (48472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996926)

Option A will reinforce a reasonable business model that will benefit the industry, the artist, and you.

Option B will reverse the progress that has been made.

I'm not sure that I agree on this. Yes, major labels selling DRM-free music is probably a reasonable business model. But I'm not convinced that Option B is the regression you make it out to be. There is other progress to be made as well. DRM-free music solves a number of problems related to the restrictions on using your music. It doesn't address the problem that strong copyright poses for remixing/producing in a read-write culture (in Larry Lessigs words).

Illegal downloading by a large portion of society may well force politicians to rethink copyright. I'm not saying it necessarily will - only that it could. I live in Sweden, and in the months leading up to our last election, there was a lot of talk about illegal downloading. Several of the major political parties expressed the view that making an activity so many were engaging in illegal, was absurd and could threaten people's respect for the law.

All I'm saying is, if people continue to download their music from p2p services, it's not necessarily all bad news. That said, having all major labels offer DRM-free music is very good news, though, and I hope they are rewarded for it.

Re:Free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997052)

I think option B is the way to go.

Re:Free market (4, Insightful)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996982)

Your interpretation is extremely slanted. As others have noted, this is a precautionary measure by an enormously powerful Cartel to shut an up and comer out of the market. Whether it works or not is still very much up in the air, but in either way it demonstrates nothing about the power of the free market. This market (music owned by mainstream publishers and more generally music still under copyright) is not a free market to begin with.

As for choosing wisely lest we lose progress, What Progress? Copyright still lasts for an Unconstitutionally long time (which is effectively unlimited), and artists are still be badly exploited by massive corporations. There is no progress to be lost, except the continued erosion of sales of music owned by the big cartel. The decline of their revenue is the REAL progress. Once the power of big media is eroded to the point of making re-regulating media and telecommunications in a reasonable way, then we will have made a grand achievement.

Option C (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997098)

Continue to not buy Sony or sony media products because of their payments to congress-kritters who create laws like DMCA, copyright extension, etc la.

mod parent up!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997540)

Hear, hear!

Re:Free market (0)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997132)

Dont celebrate yet. We havent got decent prices yet.

Anything more than $5 for a CD is too much.
You can buy jewel case CD-Rs for under a dollar a pop which would cost more to make than a music cd.
That means over $4 profit for the RIAA of which the artist gets a tiny fraction.
Currently its closer to $20 profit.

Re:Free market (3, Insightful)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997158)

Will you buy MP3s, unrestricted, for a reasonable price?

I think it is a good move on Sony's part to release DRM-free music. But it is too soon to start buying their stuff. They are still Sony. Don't forget the Blu-Ray DRM. With the region codes they intend to spring if they win the format war. And don't forget the rootkit fiasco. As I understand it, Sony continues to plant trojans on their CDs, they just don't contain rootkits anymore. Yes, definitely too soon.

Re:Free market (1)

pthisis (27352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997192)

Personally if I were one of the many stellar Sony classical performers I'd be jumping for joy. I know that I've been looking into a lot of new pieces in the past few months, and have posted various places looking for recommendations of performances. Several times I've gotten back answers along the lines of "A, B, and C are the consensus best performances, and both A and C are available as mp3 downloads from Amazon". Certainly particular performances _do_ matter, and for pieces that I really enjoy I might go on to buy the others. But for first time listening, if it's between 3 stellar performances I'll go with what's available easily.

If I decide I don't like the piece, the artists not readily available suffer--which seems unfair as it's not their decision and it's hardly one that a musician could be expected to anticipate at all when negotiating a contract before the mid-1990s, but there it is.

Re:Free market (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997262)

If you've ever opened a typical modern music file (uncompressed or compressed) in a Waveform editor, such as Audacity, and have seen the obscene amount of clipping, square waves and unnecessary loudness that has been introduced by sound engineers pandering to the loudness craze, I'm not sure we're quite ready to appease the music industry. If they can't even trust us to use a volume dial, to turn up a quiet track (which I'm sure we do anyway)... things are pretty dire.

To illustrate, use the 24-hour rule and find a copy of a classical music file or anything else you know has been produced well; let's take Holst's "Jupiter" as an example. Opening this up in Audacity shows how music should be recorded - way below the +1/-1 peak level, but rising every so often to deliver a punchy sound, and with a difference between quiet and loud parts. Then open a mainstream pop record. It's probably stretched to the limit, with peaks being chopped off, all the same volume - you get the idea. Musical abuse, basically. That's not saying there aren't exceptions, but I'd say even one record on the market with its dynamic range squeezed down to tiny proportions is too many. And there's far more than one record currently committing these "crimes".

Don't forget to delete the files after 24 hours of use though. I am not responsible if the hired goons come round and break down the door etc.

First bring back dynamic range. Then bring in FLAC. Because your choice of codec matters little if they ruined the studio copy in the first place. Then we'll talk.

Re:Free market (1)

the_one(2) (1117139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997378)

1$/song is way to expensive. I would consider buying the songs if they dropped to around 10 cents/song

Re:Free market (1)

g253 (855070) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997468)

Let me tell you something about the free market : the more abundant and easily accessible a resource is, the lower the price will get. If something can be obtained for free that something is not worth a dollar, or even a cent. Regardless of moral issues.

Re:Free market (1)

zettabit (1167691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997496)

But what if the world Governments put trade restrictions on DRM music, not one or two, but ALL companies will be forced to have DRM-free music.

Re:Free market (0)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997536)

Will you buy MP3s, unrestricted, for a reasonable price? Or will you continue to download it for free via Limewire?
99 cents (or more) per track is hardly reasonable for what is probably a 128kbps MP3 file. The download price should be the CD's MSRP minus a reasonable discount (20%-30%) for the fact that there is no packaging, shipping, storage, or distribution costs involved beyond bandwidth, and the downloads should be in WAV, FLAC, Apple's Lossless codec, or some other open non-proprietary uncompressed digital format that is an exact duplicate of the CD track if it were to be ripped to a computer in order to allow exact re-duplication back to a CD-R for listening in a portable or car CD player. Selling sub-quality MP3s for the same price per track as you could buy the CD is ridiculous. The only people that benefit are those too lazy to drive to the box store and buy the CD.

Re:Free market (0, Redundant)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997586)

Except, you are out of your mind.  They didn't do this because they weren't making enough money--iTunes has been mildly successful,  you know.

They did it because they didn't like Apple's strangehold due to Apple's monopoly over Apple's own DRM'ed format.  They just didn't like being under Apple's thumb, and that is all.

Wake me up when they're selling mp3's at a reasonable price...say, 4 cents.  Then, I'll buy it every time I want to hear it, instead of "downloading" it and "keeping it on my hard drive for no good reason".

Re:Free market (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997638)

"Those of you who feel that the free market has no recourse against the large corporation and cartel, take note - this is the voting power of your dollar at work. Or, the lack of the dollar thereof, specifically."

Hardly.

These are not Free Market Goods but rather goods protected by government granted monopolies...

Plus, this is not as a result of customer anything in my book, but rather an attempt by the music companies to take back the control over the business they gave to Apple by mistake. (Without realizing exactly the outcome of what they were doing.)

all the best,

drew

Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (0, Troll)

galimore (461274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996520)

*sigh*

Apple already moved away from DRM with EMI and "iTunes Plus" tracks. They were the first online music reseller to do so.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (4, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996540)

correct me if I'm wrong- but amazon only sells drm free tracks - and itunes sells a few drm free tracks. i don't think anyone is arguing over who did it first.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996914)

correct me if I'm wrong- but amazon only sells drm free tracks - and itunes sells a few drm free tracks

It takes time to make songs available on an online store. Amazon currently has RIGHTS to sell more DRM-free songs than Apple, but Apple's been loading EMI DRM-free songs and DRM-free songs from independents for almost twice as long as the Amazon store has existed. The figure I've seen is that they have about 2 million DRM-free tracks (out of the 6 million total they have). That's about the same size as the whole Amazon store, so I think saying iTunes has "a few" DRM-free tracks is a bit of an understatement at the moment.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997064)

[quote]It takes time to make songs available on an online store.[/quote] And that's exactly what's wrong with the whole digital music store business. They have to license every damn piece of music they sell, which means dealing with untold numbers of small and large labels, individuals self-publishing their music etc. For me, the biggest problem with online download stores has not been DRM, but the lack of selection. I don't give a damn about the 4 major labels, I can, on a good day, think of maybe one or two bands I might listen to from the whole bunch. Small labels is where it's at, and there sure are a lot of them out there to be making license agreements with all of them. Sure, emusic.com is doing a decent job of that, but even so, I still keep bumping into a whole lot of stuff I can only buy by ordering a CD somewhere, or having a brick-and-mortar store do that for me. Then there's the other sources, which have great selection but don't pay the artists a dime...

So what, in my opinion, is needed, is some way to allow users to get their content whereever they like, and still pay the artists. Sell a license to download, maybe? Of course, again, there's so many practical problems I don't even want to think about it. Fortunately I'm not in the music industry.

Re: Rant about State of the Industry (2, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997404)

You're expressing frustration, but don't paint "the other sources" as the way to go. Of course it takes effort to get the bands signed to a download store... this is what we all cheer for, "sticking it to the Big Label".

What you're describing is a market opportunity for labor. As I understand your post, once the majority of small labels are signed, you'll be content. This becomes a When-Not-If scenario. My projection is three years if a dedicated negotiating force buckles down with no more white noise interference.

Then there will always be the bleeding edge bands who formed last week, and it will be the thing to do to get them signed as a favor, in return for comped cd's *for services performed*.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (2, Insightful)

lucas teh geek (714343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996932)

and itunes sells a few drm free tracks.
... and who do you think the cause of that is? Apple, run by Jobs who has publicly stated he would love to drop drm, or the labels, who are using drm-free as a bargaining chip to try and force apple into variable price (read: most songs will cost more, some will remain the same, 1 will become cheaper).

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (4, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996608)

No-ones doubting that Apple was first, but for Sony to do this is a big thing indeed. They're a dinosour, and one of the worst DRM offenders (just having DRM isn't as bad as those darn silly rootkits), so if they have finally got the message, that's a sign of good things to come.

Personally I'm of the mind that iTunes tracks have always been DRM free though, since you are allowed to burn them to CD. If you just want to use the iPod alone, there's no need. This in built burn to cd option hasn't been the case for other DRM schemes that I know of.

Try as I might, I can't hear any difference to a track I've burned to CD and encoded as mp3. Aac has its advantages (aside from the drm everyone mutters about), I do like the bookmark feature.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (3, Insightful)

allcar (1111567) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996824)

Personally I'm of the mind that iTunes tracks have always been DRM free though, since you are allowed to burn them to CD.

Sorry, but that's nonsense. The fact that it is possible to burn to an inconvenient physical format an then rip to a DRM free format does not make iTunes DRM free. There is an inevitable loss of quality in this time-consuming process. I cannot play the original file on anything but iTunes or an iPod. That is DRM and it does not equate to consumer choice. Happily, Apple will now be forced to get rid of DRM - in the US, at least.
I have no problem with AAC - it's a good format and it can be played by Rockbox, but the DRM is not acceptable. I will never buy restricted media.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (1)

ardin,mcallister (924615) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997062)

technically, you could just burn them to a "cd image" with Daemon Tools, then rip them from that, then remove the image file :) tada, no burner needed!

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (1)

allcar (1111567) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997124)

Still a very inconvenient way to transfer a file to an MP3 Player. And, of course, you have to use iTunes in the first place, which is the essence of DRM.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997136)

Personally I'm of the mind that iTunes tracks have always been DRM free though, since you are allowed to burn them to CD.

Sorry, but that's nonsense. The fact that it is possible to burn to an inconvenient physical format an then rip to a DRM free format does not make iTunes DRM free. There is an inevitable loss of quality in this time-consuming process.
Sorry, but the sound from the "original" file and that of the riped CD are exactly the same, and turning that into a lossless format is in fact also lossless (compared to the original download at least) - and I doubt that the loss with converting it to a high-bit-rate format will be notable.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997276)

Personally I'm of the mind that iTunes tracks have always been DRM free though, since you are allowed to burn them to CD.
Sorry, but that's nonsense. The fact that it is possible to burn to an inconvenient physical format an then rip to a DRM free format does not make iTunes DRM free. There is an inevitable loss of quality in this time-consuming process.
Sorry, but the sound from the "original" file and that of the riped CD are exactly the same, and turning that into a lossless format is in fact also lossless (compared to the original download at least) - and I doubt that the loss with converting it to a high-bit-rate format will be notable.
A typical losslessly compressed file is around 700-800 kbps. 128 kbps CBR quality (iTunes DRM) at 700 kbps files sizes sounds like a shitty option to me.

No matter how great people think AAC is, the iTunes Store's 128kbps CBR is low to begin with. Losing any more audio quality is a shitty option, especially if you need to use high bitrate re-compression to minimize the additional loss in audio quality.

Apple and the music labels allowed this DRM "workaround" because it's a shitty option. It's the modern equivalent of pressing the tape recorder next to the radio's speaker.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (1)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997482)

There is, however, a loss of time in the process, and my time is important to me. There is a loss of usable cpu cycles, an increase in needed power, and a subsequent increase in my bills (basically requiring me to pay twice). Add to the fact that when I rip back into a lossless format, I am ballooning a small file into a large one, even though it is essentially still the small file, just a larger size, thus a loss of valuable hard drive space. Even though it appears to be lossless, I am losing a lot when I subscribe to your theory.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (4, Informative)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996632)

Apple already moved away from DRM with EMI and "iTunes Plus" tracks. They were the first online music reseller to do so.

That's not true. emusic.com was doing this years before iTunes.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21996832)

That's disingenuous. The ultimate decision to sell DRM-free music lies with the record companys, not with Apple or Amazon.

EMI decided to sell DRM-free music and told the online stores thats what they wanted to try. Apple agreed. As did Amazon shortly after. It's not like Steve Jobs went on a crusade to free the music and put the smack down to record companies to provide DRM-free files (despite what a few apple-fans believe).

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (2, Insightful)

zootm (850416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996910)

There was a number of online stores with DRM-free catalogs prior to Apple's involvement, and the DRM removal on iTunes was at the request of EMI, not the other way around.

Re:Apple already did with EMI - They were first! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997166)

Think you'll find 7digital were live with EMI MP3 before itunes plus

Hey Sony! How About DRM-Free iTunes? (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996546)

Come on Sony, give iTunes some DRM-free love. You know you want to!

There's Already DRM-Free Music At Amazon.... (2, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996594)

...it's available on things called "compact disks".

Plus you get a nice plastic case, sleeve notes & a nice shiny disk that sounds better in a reasonable hi-fi than any lossy downloaded file.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that good music albums (of which there are thousands) do not have just one or two good tracks - that particular property is reserved for the "great unwashed" who never shop beyond the shelves of their local supermarket for music.

You mean ***PAY*** someone to cause the heads of my hard disk to write a few ones and zeroes????

Re:There's Already DRM-Free Music At Amazon.... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996654)

You mean ***PAY*** someone to cause the heads of my hard disk to write a few ones and zeroes????
Using your attitude, there are already fees due to copyrights, and they're in this case applied to stuff called music.

Re:There's Already DRM-Free Music At Amazon.... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997570)

You are missing my point entirely.

With a CD collection of 1000+ CDs, I have no problem paying artists for royalties or copyrights. I *DO* have a problem handing over money without getting something tangible in return - not to mention that I'm paying as much as (or even more than) what I can buy a complete CD for and get a nice shiny disk also.

Re:There's Already DRM-Free Music At Amazon.... (5, Informative)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996768)

Umm, you apparently don't know much about "Compact discs" as many such discs HAVE DRM (Sony rootkit, anyone?) Look really closely at that album you're about to buy. Does the case have the SANCTIONED Compact Disc logo on the packaging? No? That's because any CD with any sort of DRM or modification (bonus data tracks) violates the Compact Disc Format, and is not allowed to carry that branding.

In other words, if you don't see the sanctioned logo [google.com] on front or back of the case on the actual paper inserts, odds are you have a DRM-laden disc.

Re:There's Already DRM-Free Music At Amazon.... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997156)

I don't know about your part of the world, but here in the UK record labels decided that the logo wasn't very important years before they introduced DRM.

For some odd reason, it seems putting a 12cm shiny polycarbonate disc in a suitably sized box, printing an insert and having record stores put it with all the other 12cm shiny discs was enough to ensure customers didn't get confused at the lack of the logo.

Re:There's Already DRM-Free Music At Amazon.... (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997604)

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm in continental Europe. While most cases have the CD-Logo (heck, if you buy empty cases they have the CD logo), it's not where you need to look. Look on the disk itself. If the logo is on it, you're safe. However, the logo is pretty much missing on all new CD releases. Also look at the back of the CD, if it says "may not play on a car radio" is means DRM.

Occasionally, I do browse CDs in a normal CD Shop. Everytime I feel like buying a CD, I watch for those signs. I haven't bought a CD in over 3 years. :-(

Re:There's Already DRM-Free Music At Amazon.... (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997224)

Umm, you apparently don't know much about "Compact discs" as many such discs HAVE DRM (Sony rootkit, anyone?)

That's not quite the same thing. The music on the CD is encoded without DRM. The CDDA format does not allow DRM. Many music manufacturers add trojans (such as Sony's rootkit) to the CD, which is similar, but not quite the same thing. A Linux user won't notice the trojan. A Mac user won't notice the trojan. Someone who puts the CD into a standalone player won't notice the trojan. Someone who uses Windows, and has patched their registry to fix the Autoplay security bug won't notice the trojan. OTOH, perhaps it is the same thing. I always think of DRM as inconveniencing most of the people who use it, and requiring special software.

The GPP said that he buys CDs that don't have DRM, and you countered with "apparently you don't know that some CDs have DRM." That's like me saying that I eat clean strawberries, and you saying that I must not know that strawberries grown in some parts of the world are not clean. I don't buy those, and maybe the GPP doesn't buy CDs without the "Compact Disc" logo. It is too soon to judge.

Re:There's Already DRM-Free Music At Amazon.... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997566)

Like the other responders have said, the true CD format does not allow for DRM or protected CDs.

In actuality, with a CD collection of over 1000 albums, I can count the number of DRM CDs I own on one hand - a Velvet Revolver one & the remastered CD of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells spring to mind; and I only keep those in my collection because they play okay everywhere & can be ripped easily with cdparanoia (in Linux) or ExactAudioCopy (in Windows). Had that none been the case, they would have gone back to the seller as faulty.

Apple will drop DRM when the labels allow them (2, Informative)

ExileOnHoth (53325) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996622)

some are expecting Apple to make moves away from DRM as well

Apple would love to "make moves away from DRM." [apple.com] Obviously they will do this as soon as the RIAA-signatory record companies make the DRM-free music available to them. The DRM is not central to Apple's business but is something the record companies forced on them to make the initial deals that created itunes.

After Jobs released the memo linked above, EMI made DRM-free music available to Apple, and Apple immediately started selling it DRM-free. Of course they'll do the same with the other labels.

US only (4, Insightful)

A1kmm (218902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996624)

Unfortunately, they didn't think to also drop their geographic restrictions, so this is only available to their US users. I can only presume that they got pressure from the music industry to do this, because they think they can get more out of people in their own countries. Of course, it really just means that overseas Linux users will either download the files illegally or they just won't listen to big 4 music at all.

Re:US only (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996830)

The geographic restrictions exist because different companies own the rights to a given piece of music in different countries.

For example, a given Sony Music track might be owned by Sony Music America in the USA but may be owned by Sony Music Australia in australia.

In some cases its totally different companies that own the rights in different countries.

Re:US only (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997420)

We all understand or can imagine the ridiculous legal situations and vast sums paid to lawyers renegotiating them all. But we don't care. We just want to buy the music. Please please may we give you money Sony?

Re:US only (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997050)

That per-country restriction is odious. I have been drooling over several classical music albums I wanted to purchase, only to discover that I am an unwelcome customer. Whether I'll just download the stuff from "other sources", I don't know. I doubt, though, mostly because I won't find what I want on those "sources". But in any case, I won't forget the affront.

Re:US only (1)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997430)

Unfortunately, they didn't think to also drop their geographic restrictions, so this is only available to their US users.
That will do wonders for the US trade deficit. Especially given that so-called "IP" is about the only thing the US has left to export.

Re:US only (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997506)

Unfortunately, they didn't think to also drop their geographic restrictions, so this is only available to their US users.

That's alright - US users can just put it on eMule for us.

Re:US only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997630)

It's called a proxy server. Learn to use it. (And to those of you who think I'm flaming, isn't this the line we hear from our English friends when we complain about iPlayer only being available in the UK?)

Re:US only (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997640)

Of course, it really just means that overseas Linux users will either download the files illegally or they just won't listen to big 4 music at all.

I am an overseas (UK) Linux user and I entirely object to your above comment. I spend a ***LOT*** of time researching and listening to music (I watch virtually no TV) and every CD I like, I buy. No exceptions.

Then I just rip the CDs myself, in Linux or Windows.

So just because I choose not to pay for at least one of the operating systems I own, please don't assume I'm a music pirate. In actual fact, because I spend so much time finding the best prices for CDs, I actually consider them ***EXCELLENT*** value for money, far more than computer games or cable TV.

Also rootkit-free? (0)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996656)

Will they also eliminate the famous rootkits from the media?

DRM killed itself. (4, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996678)

I argued it before here [slashdot.org] that DRM is a dead end, killing itself by limiting it's own market. And apparently this is really happening, and happening so much that it's starting to cut in profits.
Apple has more or less a stranglehold now on the market, and the labels demanding DRM on their music help Apple maintaining this stranglehold, and block e.g. Amazon from selling music that plays on the iPod. After all, when they must use DRM, they can not use Apple's DRM, and thus the market for Amazon and the rest is limited to the non-iPod market. And that market of course is small, and no serious competition for Apple.
The only way out for the labels, the only way to break Apple's hold including the demands of one price for all songs, is to drop the DRM requirement. And finally they do so - it started of course with some iTunes-plus songs, and then one after another the labels realised that they themselves are locked in by DRM as much, if not more so, than the consumers. Even "rootkit" Sony BMG apparently finally realised that.
Now the only thing I can hope for is some real competition. US$ 0.99 (HK$ 7.7) for a single song is imho way too expensive. For that price I can buy complete movies (legal, mind you - old ones, but still, a complete movie, on VCD, sometimes go for HK$10 for two). A new movie on VCD costs here HK$ 40-50, a DVD costs about HK$ 90-120, a music CD costs HK$ 70-100 for local artists and HK$ 110-150 for overseas artists. This for legal copies, not the cheap illegal import from China.
So now finally the labels have cut the DRM from the songs, allowing Amazon and presumably soon other vendors, maybe Microsoft or Yahoo, to sell songs without DRM. Amazon is now selling a lot at prices lower than iTunes, this will likely attract customers away from iTunes. iTunes is getting competition, and may be forced to lower their prices. iTunes may also decide to give up on their DRM, the lock-in is broken up by the supply side and there is no need for them to put on the DRM. After all adding DRM costs money: it takes computer cycles, requiring more computer power; it requires extra logic on their chips or software in the iPods, etc. DRM less media is cheaper, even if only marginally so.
So will Apple give up on their DRM? Sure. I'm really sure they will. Maybe not anytime soon, but as soon as Amazon et. al. get some traction, they will. As soon as there comes a real competitor to the iPod, they will do as well just to keep there store going.

Re:DRM killed itself. (1)

entropys_cbn_dbt (1057850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996796)

yes DRM is a dead end, but the error in your argument is that it you are saying it is apple that wants the DRM, rather than the labels.

As far as apple goes, it's any system but a DRM lockin to WMA. That would have killed Apple, or more specifically Mac OSX. You could argue that the whole (original) reason for the ipod and ITS was to prevent microsoft controlling AV on computers. That's why ipods don't play WMA, DRMed or not.

Apple couldn't care less about DRM, and it is only on ITS because the labels required it. I wouldn't be surpised if Jobs announces that itunes is going DRM free next week. However, if the labels do not allow apple to have DRM free on ITS, I can otherwise see Apple eventually making a deal with Amazon to allow itunes to act as a front end to the amazon store. Amazon makes money, apple's software costs are covered by the click thru referral income, and it still gets to have itunes as the gateway to the ipod experience. Labels lose.

Of course, the only risk here to the consumer is that Amazon is probably quite happy to up the cost of new releases well above 99 cents, which is of course, what the labels want.

Re:DRM killed itself. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21996974)

Apple couldn't care less about DRM, and it is only on ITS because the labels required it. I wouldn't be surpised if Jobs announces that itunes is going DRM free next week.

You stupid, pitiful fucking Apple sycophant. Apple wants DRM, because Apple controls the software and hardware. The labels only THINK they want DRM, because they don't understand how technology works - and don't (or didn't until now) realize just what DRM really means (approved, authorized software and hardware).

Apple and Jobs have a massive hard-on for DRM/Trusted Computing...... just like Bill Gates and Microsoft.

Re:DRM killed itself. (1)

entropys_cbn_dbt (1057850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997006)

feel better now?

Re:DRM killed itself. (1, Flamebait)

NotZed (19455) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997042)

Too bloody right:

Apple couldn't care less about DRM, and it is only on ITS because the labels required it. I wouldn't be surpised if Jobs announces that itunes is going DRM free next week.

You stupid, pitiful fucking Apple sycophant. Apple wants DRM, because Apple controls the software and hardware. The labels only THINK they want DRM, because they don't understand how technology works - and don't (or didn't until now) realize just what DRM really means (approved, authorized software and hardware).

Apple and Jobs have a massive hard-on for DRM/Trusted Computing...... just like Bill Gates and Microsoft.

If you can't see how stupidly obvious this is you need to think a bit harder. It goes even further for both - as a means of promoting their other hardware/software platforms.

You can't take anything the big-wigs of any of these companies say at face value (e.g. Steve Jobbies doesn't want DRM).

Re:DRM killed itself. (0)

entropys_cbn_dbt (1057850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997244)

So I thought a bit harder, and realised you must be right. ipods can only play DRMed AAC, thus ensuring lock in.

slaps head.

Re:DRM killed itself. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997642)

"ipods can only play DRMed AAC"

Why, oh why does this fallacy continue to be spread? I don't own an iPod (WAY too expensive - remember how cheap MP3 players were getting before the iPod came out? Then it came out and prices went WAY UP?).

Here is what they play, straight from apple.com:

Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, WAV, and AIFF

Wanna change your statement? Oh, wait...was that sarcasm? My meter's busted, so I can't really tell...

In other news... (1, Funny)

Bertie (87778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21996844)

Satan "feels a bit chilly, puts on sweater"

This is anti-competitive (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21996896)

Does anybody seriously believe that Apple wants to have DRM on iTunes ? Of course not - after all it was Steve Jobs who penned the open, anti-DRM letter in the first place.

What the record companies are attempting to do here is break iTunes' monopoly on music downloads. They see the way to do this as supplying another retailer with a superior product (ie. DRM-free music) whist still insisting that iTunes sells DRM'ed tracks. They are then hoping that people will move over to Amazon's system, killing iTunes, whereupon they will then either declare DRM-free a failed experiment and re-lock the music, or force you to download entire albums only, or set variable pricing, or any other nefarious scheme they have dreamt up.

If you believe that the record companies have 'caved in' or are doing this out of the goodness of their own hearts, then you really need to develop a healthy sense of cynicism, and quickly ! The record companies are actually being incredibly anti-competitive here, allowing one sales channel access to a superior product that they deny to another.

iTunes has been a massively positive force for music downloads - it offers a-la carte choice and fixed-price downloads. It's extremely easy to use, and, well, just works. The record companies were handed a 'get out of jail free' card for internet downloads, something they hadn't been able to figure out themselves, and all they can do in return is attempt to bring down the very system that saved their necks. I think this says something about their mentalities.

The thing is, I don't think this will change anything. The average consumer values convenience over DRM, and nothing is as easy to use as iTunes. Eventually the record companies will have painted themselves into a corner, or will face a legal challenge from Apple, and all have to offer DRM-free on iTunes. Either that or Apple will do deals directly with the artists (lets' hope) and leave these backstabbing, money-grubbing bastards out in the cold.

Re:This is anti-competitive (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997180)

Does anybody seriously believe that Apple wants to have DRM on iTunes ?

Yes. It locks iTunes to the iPod, and so they mutually support each other giving apple the monopoly. Speaking out against it didn't mean Jobs didn't like it. Just that he realised that if Apple didn't allow DRM free music on iTunes, it would mean competitors would be able to offer a better product. Apple had to make a concession here.

Re:This is anti-competitive (1)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997392)

People think that Steve Jobs is the great humanitarian, that he actually wants to help people.

They don't seem to realize that this is the man who told his friend Steve Wozniak that Atari had only given them $700 for Breakout rather than $5000 so that he would only have to pay Wozniak $350 rather than $2500 for his share. And this was his friend Do you really think he actually cares about some random Joe not having to put up with DRM?

What a nice guy Jobs is.

Re:This is anti-competitive (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997602)

Does anybody seriously believe that Apple wants to have DRM on iTunes ?

Erm, the iPhone is locked into AT&T in the U.S. and over here in the UK it's locked into Orange.

Get used to it. Apple is as interested in being a monopoly as any other big, bad corporation.

Redundant by design (3, Funny)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997122)

Most music purchased on iTunes can be played only on Apple devices, and Apple insists on selling all single tracks for 99 cents. Amazon, which sells tracks for anywhere from 89 cents to over a dollar, offers the pricing variability the labels want.
Unless they would choose to follow the EMI model - plays on many devices, price not set at 99 cents.

Sony - FUD. Redundant by design.

DRM free but still too much (2, Insightful)

grege1 (1065244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997174)

If I want an old sixties song, it is not worth 99c. No wonder Limewire flourishes. Old music should be more like 10c a track, then piracy can be combated. Apples rigid 99c rule has been a big impediment to the uptake of digital sales. And the music needs to be at a higher bit rate. 128kbs became popular when everyone used dialup. I would prefer 320, the very least 256. If I am paying for a track I want some audio quality. Apple do not own aac, it is a part of mpeg, the other music players can use it if they want, once it is free of DRM. But, again at a higher bit rate. my ten cents worth :)

Re:DRM free but still too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21997476)

This is the thing that I really wondered about the label's strategy. MP3 really is not an audiophile's format. By embracing the MP3 format it could well lead to increased CD sales by people who want a higher quality. I suspect that this may be part of the studio's plan, and Amazon (who has the capability to do so) probably will forward statistical data on download and CD purchases. Something that could be very useful for an industry that is headed for the ropes.
In the end, the studios will learn what sage economists have said all along. Piracy is not a factor in influencing CD sales in a relevant way. But don't think that the RIAA will not stop suing. It's what they do.

I have my doubts.... (1)

sipatha (1162265) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997268)

From the guys that gave us the root kit come DRM free music? Whats the catch here? I have my doubts, experts out there, please check if this is true before i dive in.

Thanks in advance, and please post it on /.

Economist Article (4, Interesting)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 6 years ago | (#21997416)

This weeks Economist [economist.com] has a really great story [economist.com] about the music industries future. Hint: It's glum.

Quote:

IN 2006 EMI, the world's fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. "That was the moment we realised the game was completely up," says a person who was there.

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