Look at the Little Monkey While Apple and EMI Suck You Dry

This big EMI/Apple DRM-less announcement is a PR scam. And you bit the big one.

Posted by Michael Bordash on Mon Apr 2, 2007

There are thousands upon thousands of articles commending Apple and EMI for reaching a consensus on DRM. If you didn't know, EMI and Apple have agreed to remove DRM copyright protection for EMI songs sold on iTunes.

If that were the beginning and end to the story, it would have begun the age of music industry utopia.

Here's the catch. DRM-free EMI songs have a premium price attached. $.30 additional for the luxury of buying one of their artists' songs without protection and you get the added bonus of a higher quality song, upped to 256K from 128K. But what about all the sad customers who bought the previous DRM-laden songs? You are STILL STUCK with the embedded iTunes DRM, and if you want to "upgrade" to the DRM-free version, you have to PAY for it.

Apple has been owning its customers for years with DRM. They've placed the subtle idea in your heads that you are buying an APPLE proprietary file, that just so happens to contain some music (a secondary consideration); and sold less-rights for it's use at a premium price. Do the research yourself and find out how one-sided the royalty distribution is for artists and labels. Here we have a truly open delivery model with EMI, and what does Apple do? Charge you MORE for it, and make you PAY AGAIN if you were a sucker to buy a DRM protected file in the first place.

What is the price increase justification? It costs the same amount of money to develop an artist, record and master songs and encode them for distribution on iTunes; probably even less time without having to run the song through the DRM mill. As years pass, the networks and technology to actually serve the content to end users becomes cheaper. Hence there is a natural increase in profit margin for the product (mind you, artists and labels do not see this margin increase, only Apple). The exorbitant $.30 increase is just plain greed, if anything customers are due for an across the board decrease for songs. And the quality increase to 256K? Smoke and mirrors; they should have upgraded the bitrate years ago. In contrast, Walmart.com sells 128K WMA downloads at $.88/song and has been doing so for a long time. Furthermore, there are a HELL of a lot more portable device choices for consumers that support WMA than ONE iPod. This is what most Americans (and capitalists) like: free and open markets.

The argument that DRM-free causes an increase in piracy doesn't hold water. Even with DRM, any layperson with half a brain can burn a CD with iTunes purchased songs, then rip the CD into any of the thousands of media players (like Windows Media Player), and have a DRM-less album to do with whatever they please (no one reads the terms, btw). And unless you're willing to lose customers by putting up massive road block banners in iTunes telling customers what they cannot do with their purchased songs, you're just going to have to come to terms with piracy as a cost of doing business with modern technology.

Here's an idea, why don't the music labels stop spending millions of dollars with lawyers and the RIAA fighting an unwinnable battle against piraters and put that money back into developing your product. And while you're at it, give us a break on pricing and demand iTunes be fair to it's flock of customers. At the very least, don't charge your customers for an "upgrade" to a DRM-less song. We'd be happy with that.

Related Information
EMI artists include The Police, Fergie, Nelly Furtado, Fedde Le Grand, Arctic Monkeys and many more. All EMI Artsts. If you, the consumer, are unhappy with this situation, make sure you voice your opinion. That is the only way change can happen.

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