updated 11:30 am EDT, Sun May 27, 2007
DRM-Free iTunes This Week
Apple is prepared to launch its DRM-free catalog of music from EMI this week, according to French sources familiar with negotiations for multiple online music stores. The seeming delay for introducing the new tier of content has been primarily attributed to a desire to offer the entire catalog at once in the unprotected format rather than a gradual rollout. The companies' technicians are simply in the later stages of encoding and hosting the files before they go live, the contact says.
Apple's terms will require that whole albums be offered as a second tier of 256Kbps AAC files without the iTunes-only FairPlay copy protection scheme, necessitating that the company revisit existing master copies on an individual basis. The iTunes Store itself was not described as an issue with the upgrade.
Legal issues may also have contributed to the relatively late debut, with Apple and EMI having reportedly signed a final deal only last week following negotiations of similar contracts with both the just-announced Amazon store and Europe's VirginMega service. Both Apple and EMI are nevertheless hoping to "ideally" have the change implemented before the end of the month, the report says. Whether or not this will meet Apple's regular Tuesday update schedule is currently unknown.