updated 04:00 pm EST, Mon December 15, 2008
Labels split on iTunes DRM
Hold-out major labels are split on what they want before allowing DRM-free tracks on the iTunes Store, anonymous sources claim. Although Apple CEO Steve Jobs has claimed to want DRM-free tracks on iTunes, only EMI and a host of independent labels have so far offered any material which can be copied without arbitrary restrictions. Apple benefits financially from DRM by forcing iTunes customers to use iPods for many tracks; this is not why DRM-free tracks have been slow in proliferating however, according to the sources.
In reality, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG are said to have separate demands before allowing restrictions to be lifted. Warner is asking for variable pricing on individual tracks, with the aim of pricing hit songs above 99 cents, while Universal wants watermarking as a security measure. Sony BMG is asking for agency, which may be the most controversial request; under this scheme Sony would be considered the real vendor of tracks, not Apple, thereby giving the former authority over how music is sold.
Apple may be extremely resistant to conceding the demands of Warner and Sony. The low cost of iTunes tracks is thought to aid the store's appeal considerably, and Apple has traditionally exercised tight controls over how its content is focused and marketed. The company has made concessions in the past however, mainly in terms of movies and TV shows, where new, old and HD videos can vary in price.