Clip: Unprotected music from Apple?
Speculation Is in the Air Over EMI and Apple
By THOMAS CRAMPTON
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.
- Reuters confirms it.
Apple to Sell EMI's Music Without Copy Protection
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.