Thursday, January 15, 2009

iTunes: DRM-Free (Soon)

This was noted last week, but I'm surprised it didn't get more attention:
Apple previously sold single songs for 99 cents, most with copy-protection software. Apple has worked out arrangements with the record labels to drop the copy protection. By the end of the first quarter, Apple said its entire 10 million-song iTunes catalog will have no copy protection. That will allow people to use music they purchase in homemade videos, for instance, or move songs easily to another music player.

In April, all song prices will change to one of three tiers: 69 cents, 99 cents or $1.29. Analyst Gartenberg expects back-catalog songs to be priced at 69 cents, with most new ones going up to $1.29. "I think 99-cent songs will pretty much start to disappear," he says.

I know that with Apple, there are often gotchas attached to big announcements that we don't initially understand. Still, this seems like a watershed moment for the recording industry, a white flag of sorts when it comes to copy protection. Or maybe a death rattle.

The question for us, of course, is what kind of effect this could have on the gaming industry. If nothing else, it will subject game publishers to additional scrutiny when it comes to using DRM, which is a good thing. I think it will also pressure publishers to be more candid when it comes to disclosing to consumers what kind of copy protection their products are using.

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