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iTunes to drop DRM

iTunes to drop DRM

Fans of iTunes will be pleased to hear that songs will be DRM free in future, but dismayed at the 30¢ per song charge for freeing already-purchased content.

Owners of Apple's iconic iPod have been given a late Christmas gift this week with the news that the company is to drop all forms of DRM from its entire iTunes Music Library.

According to The Guardian, the company announced the move yesterday at the MacWorld conference. The move comes after Apple was able to secure a new agreement with the major record labels, including the right to set variable prices rather than a fixed per-song fee – something rivals such as Amazon's MP3 Store have been offering since the beginning.

Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple, said that he hopes “by the end of the quarter all 10 million songs will be DRM free in iTunes and iTunes plus.

With the removal of copy protection from the song library, the store immediately becomes more useful for anyone who doesn't own an iPod; tracks without DRM can be burned to CD or converted into different formats without the restrictions or loss of quality previously enforced by iTunes. Whether the move will be enough to tempt people away from the competing services offered by online retailers such as Amazon or Play – who already offer songs in the DRM-free and cross-platform MP3 format, often at prices cheaper than the 79p charged by iTunes – remains to be seen.

There's good news and bad news for anyone who has already built up an extensive library of purchased iTunes content: the good news is that Apple will be providing functionality to convert locked-down content to DRM-free versions; the bad news is that, according to CNet, a fee of 30¢ will be charged per song in addition to the money already paid for the purchase. For users who have a large collection, this could soon add up to a significant sum.

Pleased to see restrictive DRM dealt another deathblow in the marketplace, or is iTunes a poor option for anyone who doesn't own an iPod anyway? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

20 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
kenco_uk 7th January 2009, 09:03 Quote
Well. Blimey.
sub routine 7th January 2009, 09:07 Quote
WTF you have got to be joking me. Apple is gonna charge 30cents to allow you to unlock a tune you`ve allready purchased at a presumably more expensive price than this new variable rate will offer ???

they also want me to download the new firm ware for my ipod touch at the price of 5$ man apple are turning more and more into microtwats everyday.
liratheal 7th January 2009, 09:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
tracks without DRM can be burned to CD

But you can already burn them to CD?
Gareth Halfacree 7th January 2009, 09:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
But you can already burn them to CD?
Only a lower quality version - as I understand it, iTunes deliberately degrades the quality when you burn to a CD, and you can only do it a limited number of times.

You can, of course, burn to a CD and then rip back to the hard drive - bypassing the DRM - but the quality loss remains.
StephenK 7th January 2009, 09:29 Quote
I reckon they think most people who have bought a lot of songs on itunes with DRM probably don't require non DRM versions. This is really a hook for those of us who havent got an ipod, or people like me who havent purchased a single song from itunes or an ipod due to their DRM policy.
n3mo 7th January 2009, 09:39 Quote
Why would anyone want to burn an audioCD from mp3?
Personally, I'm not interested in online music stores until they sell loseless quality tracks. Plus, 95% of music in them is just mainstream sewage so they are usless anyway. And I hate iTunes. And I will never let Apple earn a cent on me. And the list goes on :)

Magnatune is good tho. They have ogg, wav and flac, lots of good music (not mainstream, thankfully), no DRM, no ads all over, just a clean, good, fast and stable service. Every time i visit them I spend way too much.
naokaji 7th January 2009, 09:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by n3mo
Why would anyone want to burn an audioCD from mp3?

To have the music in the car as well as at home.

Does itunes even use mp3 anymore? haven't they moved on to better quality yet?

30 cent to unlock your allready purchased music? have they gone completly mad?:(
wuyanxu 7th January 2009, 09:43 Quote
so does this mean music on the ipod/iphone will also be DRM free? can i now browse the iphone and play music off it like any other MP3 based music player?
mclean007 7th January 2009, 09:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by naokaji
Does itunes even use mp3 anymore? haven't they moved on to better quality yet?

30 cent to unlock your allready purchased music? have they gone completly mad?:(
iTunes has never used MP3 (or, more specifically, the iTunes music store has never used it and the default format for ripped music is not MP3; iTunes will rip or import MP3 and you can play it on an iPod). It uses the technically superior, but less widely supported, AAC format instead.

To take issue with your "better quality" comment, while newer standards such as AAC and OGG Vorbis can offer improved encoding efficiency (better quality at the same file size or equal quality in a smaller file size) than MP3, it is widely accepted among audiophiles that the best implementations of the MP3 standard (lame v3.98) with suitable settings (-v2 or better) can produce results which are almost always perceptually transparent (indistinguishable from the original in a blind test) to the vast majority of listeners even using very high quality hi-fi equipment. See http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=Lame for more info.
n3mo 7th January 2009, 11:02 Quote
It is so annoying when people say that mp3 is as good as loseless. It can't, the psychoacoustic model used in mp3 hasn't changed since it was created in 1991. AAC and Ogg are better, but lossy will always be lossy. If your hearing is not damaged by using an iPod and you have some good equipment (I mean good, not just randomly bought "cool stuff") it's extremely easy to hear. I never made one mistake in blind tests with mp3. High-bitrate Ogg is much harder, in some cases it sounds as close to loseless as you can get, but in certain conditions it is still possible to spot.
steveo_mcg 7th January 2009, 11:08 Quote
Yeah but then you probably bought the high tension tympanic membrane with gold oxygen free nerve uplink upgrade.
kenco_uk 7th January 2009, 11:56 Quote
With wooden knobs on :)
punkdown 7th January 2009, 12:45 Quote
you could always use requiem to decrypt the songs for free
n3mo 7th January 2009, 13:05 Quote
Really good =/= expensive. Not all audio enthusiasts masturbate with 10000$/ft cables :)
liratheal 7th January 2009, 14:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Only a lower quality version - as I understand it, iTunes deliberately degrades the quality when you burn to a CD, and you can only do it a limited number of times.

You can, of course, burn to a CD and then rip back to the hard drive - bypassing the DRM - but the quality loss remains.

I wasn't aware there was a quality drop. Shows how often I burn CD's with iTunes!
Quote:
Originally Posted by naokaji

30 cent to unlock your allready purchased music? have they gone completly mad?:(

I expect it's because they are 'performing' a service to you by enabling you to use the media in a different way - not entirely different, of course, but still different.

Aren't they also introducing a lower price tier?

As for quality - I'd like everything in FLAC, but since iTunes/iPods don't support that, well. Mp3 is my choice for media format, as it's more than likely to be supported by everything and everything else. Things like AAC and OGG are not always supported.
Sathy 7th January 2009, 15:58 Quote
Never bought anything on iTunes so far. Why? DRM.
Maybe now I might....if it weren't for the fact that they don't really offer anything that would be of interest or unnattainable the traditional way...and...

Old users needing to pay to convert your already purchased songs with DRM to ones without DRM is a sad sad move, as I see it as ripping off (pun) already paying customers. Way to show your appreciation Apple.

Getting rid of DRM is a good move, but this is hardly doing it well an respectfully. I guess they like peeing in their own pool no matter what.
-EVRE- 7th January 2009, 17:20 Quote
I've been saying it for years... anyone who continues to buy Apple are nuts..

way too expensive PC's, Laptops, music players.... etc
charge for every nitpicking software upgrade

yada yada.. its too bad linux hasn't really taken off, but a windows based PC is still way superior to a mac in usability.

I have a small Itunes collection... I started using the service to be a legit music purchaser... then I learned my lesson with the Ipod, the downgrade in music quality for CD burns. I REFUSED to pay $100 for a Ipod cable for my pickup's (great) stereo...

There is no way I will pay .30 to free my music from their grips.. I'll find other *less legal* ways to do it..


I hope Apple dies... :D
naokaji 7th January 2009, 17:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by -EVRE-
There is no way I will pay .30 to free my music from their grips.. I'll find other *less legal* ways to do it..

Hmm, just an idea, but what if you would stream it to another pc via lan and then rip the stream? it might just be crazy enough to work, technically you woudnt even be doing anything illegal as you bought the music and woudnt be sharing it with anyone else.
RickDawson 7th January 2009, 19:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by
i've been getting my tracks from specialist sites, as the major sites dont have what I want.
i may look at itunes, but i still reckon it wont have what i want.
I'll stick with the sites I always use:
audiojelly.com
djdownload.com
trackitdown.net
beatport.com
Darkefire 7th January 2009, 21:12 Quote
This is classic Apple. They're offering you something great, but at a significant premium. The hardcore Apple fans will pay through the nose to satisfy their all-consuming need to appease the effigy of Steve Jobs in their closets, and the rest of us will tell them where they can stick their overpriced plans. Within a month, Apple will have reduced the cost to close to nothing (if not nothing) so that they can make some money off the majority while the hardcore fans they ripped off will whine and complain their way into a $20 "apology" credit to their iTunes account. Everybody wins (well, mostly just Apple).
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