Dec 9, 2008

Tech - Don't hold your breath for DRM-free iTunes news

Rumors coming out of Europe that claim Apple will begin offering unprotected music files from the three largest recording companies on Tuesday are bogus, according to my music-industry sources.

Yes, Apple is in negotiations with the three biggest music labels, Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and Warner Music Group about acquiring licenses to sell music free of digital rights management software.

No, none of the deals is final as of Monday afternoon and one source told me it's unlikely Apple will have anything to announce regarding DRM-free music from the top labels before the end of the year. According to AppleInsider, a French tech-news site, ElectronLibre claims Apple will remove DRM from tracks published by the top three labels on Tuesday.

An Apple representative could not be reached for comment.

It's important to note that Apple and the music industry have been in talks before. Only one label, EMI, the fourth largest of the majors, offers DRM-free tracks on iTunes.

Many iTunes' competitors offer music stripped of copy-protection software and some fans of Apple's digital music store want Apple to follow. DRM software prevents music owners from freely moving their music to different devices. Another risk DRM poses to music owners is if a music vendor should stop issuing server keys the music will be locked onto whatever device it resides on.

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