Report: EMI Negotiating DRM-Free MP3 Downloads
February 9, 2007 at 5:48 AM (PT)
FORBES reports that while APPLE's STEVE JOBS shook up the music business by calling on the major record labels to drop usage restrictions on song downloads, at least one of the big four music companies had been already preparing to do just that.
In recent weeks EMI GROUP has been in advanced negotiations to sell music downloads without digital rights management (DRM) restrictions via multiple online music vendors, including REALNETWORKS, YAHOO!, NEWS CORP.'s MYSPACE and NAPSTER, say people familiar with the situation. But yesterday, those negotiations slowed dramatically, putting a potential deal in jeopardy, according to multiple sources.
EMI representatives said it was the company's policy not to comment on rumors or speculation.
Insiders have been buzzing for months that one of the majors was seriously exploring the possibility of freeing its downloads from restrictions that determine how many times a song can be played and on what kind of machine.
EMI and other labels have already experimented with selling a handful of songs from artists in unencrypted MP3 format, which can be played on any computer or portable music player and can be copied freely. But sources say EMI was talking to music vendors about doing the same thing with much of the company's online catalog.
A deal would be a bold move for EMI, which is in the midst of a restructuring that included the ouster last month of two of its top executives. Until now the company and its major competitors -- VIVENDI's UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP, SONY BMG MUSIC and WARNER MUSIC GROUP -- have maintained a united front on the need to preserve usage restrictions on music downloads to combat piracy.
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