Apple launches iTunes Plus

Apple launches iTunes Plus

"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.

Do you have a thought on the DRM-free music? Tell us about it in our forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
quack 31st May 2007, 14:26 Quote
I installed 7.2 last night, and bought an upgrade to the higher quality DRM-free versions of the music in my library, so I can replace the lower quality files I already have. I wasn't able to download them all however as the network kept timing out, I presume there's a few million other people doing the same.

One thing people should know is that your username and email address will be stored in each iTunes Plus file, so sharing it via P2P is a very bad move. :)
rowin4kicks 31st May 2007, 14:30 Quote
its about time to be honest, and i bet they are making a killing by charging slightly extra to upadte and buy the DRM free songs, although the higher quality is a great incentave!
DXR_13KE 31st May 2007, 14:56 Quote
it is really stupid to tax extra for something that has no DRM and will not be hit by the premium that costs to develop the DRM.
pendragon 31st May 2007, 16:41 Quote
looks like it might not be that free of 'protection' afterall
Linky here

and here
quack 31st May 2007, 16:57 Quote
To be honest, it serves you right if you buy a song from iTunes and start spreading it around the internet and end up getting caught.
completemadness 31st May 2007, 17:16 Quote
how long before someone makes an app to strip the personally identifiable info from the files, not long I'm betting

however, i suspect apple has more intricate buried info that isn't quite as obvious
specofdust 31st May 2007, 17:23 Quote
Another step on the way to reasonably priced, all you can eat, DRM free, high quality, legal music services. Good to see the march of progress!
Hiren 31st May 2007, 17:32 Quote
Originally Posted by rowin4kicks
i bet they are making a killing by charging slightly extra to upadte and buy the DRM free songs, although the higher quality is a great incentave!

Apple don't make any money on the songs they sell via iTunes, iirc it's something like a 30-70 split with the record companies. With Apple paying for all the costs (bandwidth etc).

A step in the right direction, if only buying mp3's wasn't so expensive for albums.
plug_in_ross 2nd June 2007, 15:07 Quote
completemadness 4th June 2007, 02:06 Quote
so what - their saying they think it should be watermarked, but the watermark should be encrypted

Sounds reasonable enough to me, but i all ways feel apple are rather underhanded in their business practises, they should tell you they are going to embed your info into the file (especially if its encrypted)

But as i said, i think this is just another way to dissuade non criminals (like a lock on a door) - criminals will just find a way to alter/remove the watermark and then the system fails
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