Another company has made moves to ditch overly restrictive digital rights management, with Vodafone announcing that it is to switch its music download service over to the DRM-free MP3 format.
According to an article over on The Register
, the movve comes as Vodafone finalises deals with Universal Music Group, Sony, and EMI which will see the company granted permission to distribute the groups' back catalogues free from digital rights management restrictions.
Sadly, there are some recording industry giants – namely Warner Music and the Bertelsmann Music Group – which still believe DRM-free downloads are dangerous, and have yet to sign up to Vodafone's deal. As a result, there will be certain songs that will be unavailable under the new system.
The company will be moving all of its music download sites world-wide to DRM-free MP3 starting in the summer, with the UK to be among the first to benefit. This will be followed by Germany, Italy, Spain, and New Zealand, with other Vodafone territories pencilled in for next year.
The music store – which is powered by RealNetworks – offers more than a million songs, all of which will be making the transition to MP3. The good news for existing customers is that Vodafone has pledged that all previous downloads will be available as unrestricted MP3s with no additional fee to pay.
Vodafone joins the scores of companies beginning to understand that enforcing unpopular restrictions that in no way stop – or even slow – large-scale, professional piracy is a good way to tick your customers off. With more and more download sites making the move to DRM-free downloads – albeit in the proprietary MP3 file format – perhaps 2009 could be the year consumers can finally wave goodbye to the straitjacket of DRM.
Do you applaud Vodafone's move, or do they need to sort out their pricing structure before starting to worry about the format they offer the downloads in? Share your thoughts over in the forums