"A + + + +!!" - Apple released its iTunes Plus service on Wednesday.
We've all been wanting the DRM to go away on our music. Content protection has been one of the top discussion topics in recent years as we've moved over to digital entertainment, but it sure seems like we haven't had a friend in the business. That is, of course, until Apple announced a partnership
with EMI for DRM-free music - and now it has delivered
The iTunes Plus service launched on Wednesday, bringing exactly what it promised - EMI's entire catalog of music, all DRM free. Individual songs can be purchased for $1.29 USD (as opposed to $0.99), but entire albums suffer no price increase over their DRM versions.
Despite the name making it sound like this is a separate, elevated iTunes (that could possibly cost an additional fee), iTunes Plus is nothing more than the DRM-free songs. It's accessible via a button on the regular iTunes store, and has a couple useful features. For instance, you can choose to automatically show DRM or DRM-free songs - so if you'd rather buy DRM-free, you will automatically see that version as soon as it becomes available without having to do anything special. To use the new service, you have to grab iTunes 7.2 (earlier versions show a link but will not let you purchase for some reason), but that shouldn't be a big deal for anyone who is already using iTunes.
Of course, the biggest question is more of a long-term angle. Steve Jobs and Apple have managed to bully the bullies, so to speak - first with price demands, and now with DRM. Will we see other recording companies cave to Steve-o's demands? If so, music fans may finally be able to get a little satisfaction.
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