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Clip: Unprotected music from Apple?

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  • Carl Z.
    Speculation Is in the Air Over EMI and Apple By THOMAS CRAMPTON Published: April 2, 2007 PARIS,
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 2, 2007

      Speculation Is in the Air Over EMI and Apple

      Published: April 2, 2007

      PARIS, April 1 — Relations between Apple Inc. and the EMI Group, once
      at odds over the trademark rights to the Apple name, the record label
      of the Beatles, seem to be getting better all the time.

      On Sunday, Steven P. Jobs, the Apple chief executive, announced a
      joint news conference to be held in London on Monday with Eric L.
      Nicoli, chief executive of EMI, the British music giant.

      An Apple spokesman in London had no comment when asked for details,
      but the impending news conference set off a torrent of speculation on
      possible agreements between Apple and EMI. Theories ranged from a
      Yellow Submarine iPod factory-filled with Beatles music to a more
      radical shift toward selling digital music without copy protection.

      Speculation that the Beatles' music, which has been unavailable on
      legitimate digital music services, might soon be licensed for download
      from Apple's iTunes service has been rife since early February, when
      Apple Inc. and Apple Corps, the guardian of the Beatles' music
      interests, announced that they had settled their dispute over the
      technology company's name and its use of an apple logo.

      Both EMI and Apple have recently indicated an interest in making music
      available without antipiracy protection.

      In recent months, EMI has discussed proposals to sell unprotected
      songs through a variety of digital music services that compete with
      Apple, including online retail units operated by RealNetworks and
      Yahoo, according to people briefed on the company's affairs. But those
      plans appeared to stall after the parties could not agree on financial

      Mr. Jobs waded into the controversy this year with a letter, posted on
      Apple's Web site, that urged the music industry to abandon the use of
      the digital rights management technologies that limit the ability of
      consumers to transfer music.

      Apple has faced intense criticism from governments and consumer groups
      across Europe over the last year because of the digital protections on
      music sold by iTunes. France passed a law intended to encourage the
      easy transfer of music between digital devices.

      While many independent labels already sell music without copy
      protection, EMI has placed itself at the forefront of the major music
      companies in questioning the usefulness of such protection.

      Last week, Mr. Nicoli told a mobile operators' meeting in Orlando,
      Fla., that test sales of unprotected music by a few artists offered
      some promising results, but did not say whether EMI would expand or
      abandon the practice.

      If the announcement on Monday does involve the Beatles, the experiment
      may be a much-anticipated Yellow Submarine iPod that comes supplied
      with Beatles tracks, according to Mark Mulligan, a vice president at
      JupiterResearch who specializes in digital music.

      "The trademark settlement deal clearly raised the possibility of Apple
      selling EMI music in a physical format," Mr. Mulligan said. "This is
      an original idea and helps Apple with their core business, selling

      Such a device had been rumored for introduction on Valentine's Day,
      but never appeared, Mr. Mulligan said. He added that speculation that
      the announcement might involve the sale of music without copy
      protection is a result of EMI's drawn-out negotiations with a number
      of music retailers.

      "Negotiations for sale of unprotected music through retailers,
      including iTunes, Napster and others, just faded out," Mr. Mulligan
      said. "The idea of a major record label selling unprotected music was
      unthinkable a year ago, but is now under serious consideration."

      The possible sale of unprotected music has been driven in part by the
      much larger illegal downloading markets, he said. Some European
      countries have so much piracy that five songs are downloaded illegally
      for each song sold over the Internet, according to JupiterResearch.

      Mr. Mulligan insisted on holding in reserve one theory about Apple's
      plans: "Knowing Apple, they could be bringing out a major surprise we
      have not yet considered."

      Jeff Leeds contributed reporting from Los Angeles.
    • Carl Z.
      Reuters confirms it. Apple to Sell EMI s Music Without Copy Protection By REUTERS Published:
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 2, 2007
        Reuters confirms it.

        Apple to Sell EMI's Music Without Copy Protection

        By REUTERS
        Published: April 2, 2007

        LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - EMI said it was making its digital music
        catalog available without the anti-piracy measure known as digital
        rights management (DRM), with Apple Inc.'s iTunes as its first retail
        Skip to next paragraph Reuters

        "The new higher quality DRM-free music will complement EMI's existing
        range of standard DRM-protected downloads already available," EMI said
        in a statement on Monday as the company began a press conference in
        central London with Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

        "From today, EMI's retailers will be offered downloads of tracks and
        albums in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of
        bit rates up to CD quality," EMI added.

        Apple said iTunes would make individual tracks available from EMI
        artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their
        DRM removed, at a price of $1.29, 1.29 euros and 99 pence.

        As expected there was no announcement regarding a Beatles deal, as
        some followers had anticipated when EMI announced on Sunday that it
        would hold a press conference with Apple.

        EMI has acted as the distributor for the Beatles since the early
        1960s, but the Fab Four's music holding company Apple Corps Ltd. has
        been a high-profile hold-out from Internet music services like Apple's

        Earlier this year, Jobs called on the world's four major record
        companies, including EMI, to start selling songs online without
        copy-protection software, known as DRM, for digital rights management.
        DRM software is designed to thwart piracy but also makes using music
        cumbersome for many consumers.

        Jobs argued that there appeared to be no benefit for the record
        companies in selling more than 90 percent of their music without DRM
        on compact discs, while selling the remaining small percentage of
        music online encumbered with DRM.

        Executives at several rival record companies said they had expected
        EMI to drop DRM but questioned whether EMI had done sufficient market
        research to justify the move.

        "It's problematic," said one executive. "EMI haven't tested it enough
        so they don't know what the market reaction is going to be to open

        MP3s are an open audio format that allows digital music fans to share
        songs or albums with other listeners. The music industry has shunned
        the standard in favor of formats that require some form of copy

        "The issues are will MP3s help expand the market and how will it
        affect piracy? We just don't know," the executive said. EMI's biggest
        market test was with Norah Jones' single "Thinking About You" in
        January, while Sony (NYSE:SNE) BMG tested the market with Jessica
        Simpson's "A Public Affair" last summer.
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