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DRM won't work! Let's "try" DRM free!
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Written by Daniel   
Friday, 10 August 2007 09:28
Music DRM in critical condition: Universal tests DRM free music sales
ARS Technica
By Ken Fisher | Published: August 09, 2007 - 07:54PM CT

Universal Music Group has announced that the company is going to test selling DRM-free music to consumers in order to assess the market. It's a strange test, however; the company won't be hawking DRM-free music at Apple's iTunes Store, at least at first. Doug Morris, UMG's chairman and CEO, said in a statement that the company began internally considering the DRM-free waters earlier this year, and the company is expanding its plans into a nationwide test to "provide valuable insights into the implications of selling our music in an open format."

 

The test will see UMG offering a portion of its catalog—primarily its most popular content—sold without DRM between August 21 and January 31 of next year. The format will be MP3, and songs will sell for 99¢ each, with the bitrate to be determined by the stores in question. According to Universal, Amazon, RealNetworks, and retailers such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart will have first crack at selling the music. RealNetwork's Rhapsody service will offer 256kbps tracks, the company said in a separate statement.

January 31 is likely more of a fire escape than an end date. If UMG doesn't like what they're seeing, they'll pull the plug. UMG says that it wants to watch how DRM-free music affects piracy rates. In all reality, this test is Universal's attempt to ease into the DRM-free waters with an built-in excuse for fleeing the deep end. All of Universal's major hit music is already available online and without DRM, thanks to the fact that anyone can rip a CD. Selling DRM-free music online won't change that.

"Universal Music Group is committed to exploring new ways to expand the availability of our artists' music online, while offering consumers the most choice in how and where they purchase and enjoy our music," Morris said in a statement. Leaving Apple out of the mix leaves us scratching our heads about "choice," but our guess is that there's a reason for this that we're not being told.... More


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