EMI Group will soon sell digital music with better sound quality and no digital rights management restrictions through Apple's iTunes Store.I would love to have been a fly on the wall when EMI worked out how much losing the chance to sell the same song multiple times to the same customer was worth. Apparently DRM-free songs also have higher quality sound -- something about increased bit rate = larger files = reduced compression. I think such compromises by the recording industry will only accelerate the trend toward online purchases and decrease illegal file sharing. The more willing the members of the RIAA are to offer music in popular formats at a reasonable price, the more sympathetic I am toward their lawsuits against people who engage in wholesale intellectual property theft, and the less likely I am to push my political representatives to revise copyright laws.
EMI's entire digital music catalog will be available in premium DRM-free form via iTunes in May, the music label said Monday at a press conference in London. Beatles tunes under EMI's control, however, are not part of the plan.
Higher-quality music files, which will play on any computer and any digital-audio player, will not replace the copy-protected EMI music currently sold through iTunes. Rather, they will complement the standard 99-cent iTunes downloads and will be sold at a premium: $1.29 per song.
Consumers who have already purchased EMI tracks containing Apple's FairPlay copy protection will be able to upgrade them to the premium version for 30 cents, EMI said. Full albums in DRM-free form can be bought at the same price as standard iTunes albums.