back to article Apple iTunes Store goes '100% DRM-free' - allegedly

Take your pick - the iTunes Store is going 100 per cent DRM-free, or Apple is whacking 30 cents onto the price of each song and encouraging you to upgrade your whole iTunes library to iTunes Plus, at 30 cents (UK 20p) per song. Apple prefers the 100 per cent DRM-free line, naturally, but there's a price being paid to the record …


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  1. Kris Chaplin
    Jobs Halo

    Big step in the right direction

    A great move by apple, which will help bring DRM-free to the masses.

  2. Steve McCartney

    I think it's perfectly clear

    What the hell is all the confusion about in this article. The facts are pretty clear - iTunes is going 100% DRM-free. What's the "allegedly" nonsense? 8 million of it's 10 million songs now and 2 million by end of quarter is 10 million of 10 million (100% last I checked). At that point new pricing comes in.

    "Logically, if the store really is going to be offering all of its wares in the iTunes Plus format, then one would expect there to be a price above the $1.29 premium tier for the premium/iTunes Plus combo. Or do new releases stay DRM until they drop a price tier? We await enlightenment."

    Logically you say? Nothing logical about that FUD statement. Nothing is staying DRM - if you looked at the store before writing the article you would see it's pretty much all iTunes Plus (DRM-free) already, as has been announced. There's no 2-tier option.

    Seems to me the point of the article is to bewilder folk into thinking what was a perfectly straightforward piece of news is the opposite.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Rob Sked
    Jobs Horns


    I found this confusing.

    Are they saying that I can get DRM free music if I sign up for I-Tunes Plus only (thus reducing how much I can store on my I-Pod due to bit rate, as I'll be forced to re-download my tracks at a more bloated file size)?

    Why can't I just "update" my library to DRM free music?

    Oh wait, becuase some cracker will work out how to do it for free and they will loose money . . . . .

  5. jai
    Jobs Halo

    upgrade all or none

    as far as i can tell, you have to upgrade your entire library at once if you want to benefit from the 20p upgrade price

    in these credit crunch times, i'm not sure i want to 250quid to upgrade everything - but i'd happily upgrade my favourite bands right now if i was able to.

    annoying - it seems they're using their records of what you've bought, not what is currently in your itunes library, so you can't even be clever and backup/delete all the ones you don't want to upgrade

  6. Stuart


    Yeah, I bet that scared the shit out of iTunes. High bight rate and DRM free, then all of a sudden iTunes follows. Nice to see competition breeding a better service, so rare these days.

  7. adnim




    I wouldn't give Apple nor the leeching middlemen of the record labels the steam from my ....

    Please give me an avenue by which I can pay the artists directly.

  8. Antidisestablishmentarianist
    Jobs Halo

    iTunes Plus Plus?

    Hopefully they'll introduce Apple Lossless downloads as the next step. That would be sweet.

  9. John Molloy


    Amazon was the record labels last ditch attempt to bring down iTunes. They actually withheld DRM free music from iTunes until the last possible moment. Carp on all you will but it is the record companies that are behind this movement, NOT Apple.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    This is starting to compare with the prices from specialist retailers like beatport, djdownload and where a 320k mp3 is about £1.29 or so.

    Of course, there's always the moral argument- when you're buying stuff from those sites, the tunes are often from tiny little labels who occasionally pay their artists some of what they earned- Apple screw the labels much harder than the specialists, so I will keep on buying from the smaller outlets, I think.

    However, it's progress of a sort. They had to do it, or Amazon would have eaten their lunch.

  11. Antidisestablishmentarianist


    I was waiting for a freetard to pipe up. Don't you get bored spouting your 'leeching middlemen/record labels' yawn fest? You rebel you.

  12. Adrian Esdaile
    Jobs Horns

    So does this mean....

    I can finally put my previously-bought iTunes songs onto my Sony Minidisc player?

    ie. are they removing DRM from previously-sold music?

    If not, then they aren't 100% DRM free, are they?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't mean a thing if it's not region-free

    DRM-Free doesn't really mean much if you limit your sales to what you perceive as first world countries. I still get that taunt that my Visa isn't good enough when I try to buy music with one issued by a Malaysian bank.

    Get rid of the region-block and then we'll talk business.

    Skull and crossbones, because I have to resort to other means to get music I can't buy of the Jesus store and said album wasn't released to CD.

    I'd prefer buying a CD anyway since almost all online music stores do ship CDs overseas, plus I don't have to burn a backup as soon as I get them downloaded.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    .torrent anyone

    Personally I will not pay for a shit album and I sure as hell am not going to buy DRM laden songs. Guess that leaves $1.29 songs on iTunes and torrents. Let me think ....... hmmmmm .... it looks to me that $1.29 is about $1.19 too much so torrents are the way to go.

  15. Arnie
    Paris Hilton


    arent you getting bored by the music industry ripping you off?

    I bet you love paying for your music twice or maybe three times during its life. you conformist you.

    dont buy this shit from the record labels.... get your wallet out and go see the band.

    freetard my ass!

    paris cause you like being ripped off!

  16. Rob


    "Oh wait, becuase some cracker will work out how to do it for free and they will loose money . . . . ."

    Ahem. They did that ages ago.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How is this helpful?

    iTunes going DRM-free? That's all very well, but unless the hardware is also unlocked as well, what use will it be?

    At the moment, you can put stuff ON an iPod ...but you can't get it off again, DRMed or not. And will the iTunes application let you actually DO something with your shiny new DRM-free tunes that you couldn't do before? If not, then what's the point?

  18. Urs Keller

    @Rob Sked

    Rob, there is a checkbox in iTunes that appears on the settings page whe you connect your iPod that reads something like "Convert files to 128 kBps). Check it, and all your files will be dynamically converted to the more compact (and lower quality) format. So you have high quality on your PC/MAc, and can fill up your iPod to the brim.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DRM Free - It's only what you already had with a CD

    Good idea for iTunes to finally follow suite, however surely buying a CD still make much more sense then downloading! You get a higher quality than on most downloads for a cheaper price! On the expensive side - say a CD cost £10 and you get 10 tracks with that you're paying £1 per track. Plus you get the added bonus of having a backup copy when your computer decides it doesn't like you anymore!

    However with CD's you either have to go out of your house...or wait for a package to arrive...OH NO what will I do whist I wait...!!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "Please give me an avenue by which I can pay the artists directly."

    So you can ignore that avenue too? How convenient that doesn't exist. It so wonderfully allows you to keep on with your "free thinking" (read thieving) ways while pretending you're making some heroic stand against the record labels.

    I presume you can look me in the eye and tell me you currently donate the equivalent of the cost of everything you download to charity? Nope? Thought not...

  21. D@v3

    iTunes wont last forever (am i the only one?)

    Progress is progress, i wont argue with that, but the idea of giving i$ any MORE money, especialy on a regular basis (ie every time i want more music) doesnt sit well with me (nor does the fact that i can often not find what i am looking for), which is why, I am still willing to spend my hard earned on CD's

    I can see the day where something 'better' than iTunes and MP3's come along, and when it does, i'm gonna be sitting with my stacks of CD's ready.

  22. Jim Cosser
    Thumb Up


    Regardless of how it happened the facts are Amazon is generally cheaper (albums from £3 songs from 59p) and DRM Free, it doesn't seem a hard choice really.

    Fair enough upgrade your old albums on iTunes then buy everything from Amazon from now on ;)

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @iTunes Plus Plus?

    >Hopefully they'll introduce Apple Lossless downloads as the next step.

    Undoubtedly so, and they'll get to charge you yet another 20p per song all over again to "upgrade your library". Nice for Apple that they've sold you one tune and you've had to keep paying extra installments for it long after the original sale.

    >That would be sweet.

    Or "a stitch-up of a captive market", as I would put it. Looks like Apple have all their punters over a barrel to me. And it was the use of DRM in the first place that put them there.

    DRM only protects monopolies - not copyrights. And it punishes the legitimate consumer in order to do so. Those who sling around the "freetard" pejorative just don't understand that *that* is what we're objecting to.

  24. Condor
    Thumb Up

    Excellent Strategy

    Once again Apple put them selves in a great position to make a fortune from relatively little work from a tired existing user base who are probably only purchasing a few songs a month

    Lets say Apple has sold 3 billion songs to its iTunes users.

    20% of people want to upgrade to DRM-less

    600,000,000 songs @ 20p = £120m for not a lot of work on Apples side.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    still no cigar (formerly known as still rulez..

  26. Lloyd
    Thumb Down

    It'd be nice

    If they'd open up the iPhone/iPod such that you could use explorer to copy data as iTunes itself is a restrictive piece of shit, if I want to use my phone as a storage device then I have to install a 3rd party product on the machine I want to copy from and the machine I want to copy to, no other phone is this restrictive.

  27. jeffrey


    your upgrade would cost £250 ?? Wow as upgrades are at 25% of original price does that mean you have spent ~ £1K on itunes?

    I agree though, it sucks that you have to do it all at once, but otherwise they wouldn't make as much £££££

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Adnim, you can get good quality (320 kbp) DRM free music at 7digital or Amazon and pay for thus helping the artist your listening too.

    I have never once bought any music off of iTunes simply because previously the quality of bitrate was terrible and I dont like to be stuck to DRM. So instead just had to make do with buying the CD after a few listens and ripping it myself to 320kbp. Now I can lob all those CD's in the attic, buy the music electronically at a quality and format I want and appease my gf who was getting annoyed at the CD's lying around ;o) Result.

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Ha, no prob for me. I use Piratebay for my tunes and amazingly they have no DRM and as a bonus, the artist gets about the same amount of royalties off PB as they do itunes. *uckall... Its win win.

  30. Sean Aaron


    I do enjoy 7digital, but their search interface is pretty shit, so being able to get iTunesPlus tracks from more than just EMI is something I've wanted for a long time...

  31. Jolyon Ralph
    Thumb Down

    100% drm free? Not even close.

    That is, unless you think that iTunes only sells audio still.

    The Video will still be DRM-infested and unusable on non-apple-approved devices.


  32. Thomas

    "My entire iTunes library"

    Is about 99.999% music from CDs or other legal non-DRM sources and contains an aggregate of maybe 10 minutes of DRMd iTunes Store content, downloaded in order to make a CD in a hurry. I therefore doubt that ensuring my entire iTunes library to DRM free will cost very much.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Muffled ears

    Is there still the error in the iTunes AAC encoder that means that many of their 256k tracks actually sound worse than the 128k ones? Here's betting if they ever fix it, they won't go back andfix the tracks already encoded or let people re-download them?

    I'l pay for lossless, never for lossy.

  34. TeeCee Gold badge


    What I'd be interested to know is if there was an avenue by which they could pay the artists directly*, how many of 'em would actually do so.

    My money's firmly bet on none at all here.

    *An anonymous cash donation to the Musician's Union is probably the closest you can get to this right now. They may not give money to artists (quite the reverse) but they are the only thing that stops the labels screwing the poor buggers into bankruptcy.

  35. Krystan Honour

    non Apple device goodness

    finally i can buy a sonos without all the re-rip nonsense.

  36. Ron Eve


    Why let facts get in the way of a good story? All those bleating about Apple, DRM. bit rates and region coding - please do a little research (you can happily search El Reg for all this).

    For Apple to even think about selling music they HAD to bow to the record industry (RIAA et al) and infect everything with DRM. There was NO choice about this otherwise the labels would simply not license the music.

    Bit rates - Although to some extent there were space considerations (higher rate - more space) again the music industry didn't want any material released at high (i.e. lovely for pirating CD's etc) bit rate.

    Movies - substitute the MPAA for the RIAA.

    Region coding - <sigh - this is getting boring> see MPAA and RIAA who want to maximise profits from around the world.

    Can you see a pattern emerging? If you can't then you need to get back to your class while your computer is downloading all that 'free' stuff, you thick cnuts.

  37. OrsonX

    R.I.P. iTunes

    So iTunes purchased songs are no longer only playable on your iPod?

    Hasn't that just shafted one of the best marketing strategies of all times? ie. you can now use iTunes as your music browser, but any old mp3 player to actually play your music!?

  38. W

    Pricing strategy

    >"higher pricing for new releases and promos, and lower pricing for slower-moving back catalogue, which is a model the labels are familiar with" - El Reg

    Yeah, but no, but yeah, but no...

    The recent new Take That album was heavily discounted in most outlets (was it £4 I saw it for in Asda?). Most new releases, go on sale at something like £8 or £9. Then they end up at £10.99 and up.

    Yes, *some* back catalogue CDs are available at a fiver or so, but it's all just the same old pile 'em high usual suspects tat that gets bought on impulse by the dwindling few who actually go to HMV to browse.

    I went into HMV the other day with a fist full of gift vouchers and a printout of my Amazon Wishlist. First problem was that very few were available. Of the ones that were, there was scarcely a back catalogue album available for less than £10 of £11. Even fewer were at a price lower than (or even close to) online at Amazon or Play. And that's before we get to Amazon Marketplace prices. No wonder HMV (and especially Zavvi) are struggling when they're trying to flog back catalogue albums for £15.

    I also got some iTunes credits for Christmas. Geez, what a hassle... I guess I shouldn't be ungrateful, but I don't use iTunes. And even if I did, AAC files are no good for my purposes. So I'll have to install iTunes, and then anything downloaded from there will be plugged straight into MediaCoder and converted to MP3 for trouble free future use. iTunes will be swiftly uninstalled

    How many times do I need to repeat the following...???





    Simple. Otherwise folk will just continue to buy secondhand CDs from Amazon Marketplace (30+ folks like me) or simply leech 'em for free instead (under 30s). In either instance, the record companies/artists don't see a penny. At least with the allofmp3 model, the record companies/artists might be able to stop the haemorrhaging of sales that's occuring.

  39. Ash

    20p "upgrade" cost to remove crippleware?

    Download the tracks you have licensed from Apple from a P2P network.

    No difference, 20p per track saved.

  40. W

    Last week, from HMV, I bought:

    A Hitchcock 14 Film Box Set

    Inc: Vertigo/ The Birds/ Rear Window/ Marnie/ Frenzy/ Topaz/ The Trouble With Harry/ Torn Curtain/ Psycho/ Family Plot/ Saboteur/ Shadow Of A Doubt/ Man Who Knew Too Much/ Rope

    -The box contains each film in an individual case with proper artwork.

    -All discs have a "Making Of" documentary, amongst other things.

    -It cost little more than £1 per DVD. And it's available on Amazon if you want it.

    -And yet "they" still want the thick end of £1 for one digital song! And we have to pay for our own backup!

    Now I know that the Hitcock films have probably recouped many times over, but they aren't releasing this box set as a loss leader. So there's some profit in there somewhere. And that only serves to suggest how cheaply *discs* of media can be *shipped* and sold in *brick shops* for. iTunes et al have none of these overheads.

    So trying to charge the the earth for individual chunks of a few MB of data online just won't wash when the equivalent amount of data can easily be DL'd (legitimately and for free) from, say, YouTube,, or even Sourcefourge.

    Admittedly, these aren't direct competitors to iTunes et al. But them's the sums these days, folks. If you wanna sell ephemeral data online then you've gotta get real.

    The creation and digital distribution of an album of music really needn't be *that* expensive if you're prepared to forgo your MTV Cribs lifestyle and the money wasted on promo that doesn't actually increase overall sales, but simply shapes and narrows the market to the promo that you've just paid for.

    So if we take the MTV Cribs lifestyle away, we're either left with either i) loadsa profit or ii) coke and hookers. And they're claiming that profits are dwindling. So that just leaves...

  41. J


    "I'l pay for lossless, never for lossy."

    There is no such thing as lossless in the digital world.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sonos @ Krystan Honour

    All my music is ripped via iTunes and it plays absolutely fine on our Sonos system. And on any other MP3 player as long as you drag-and-drop rather than trying to sync. Don't have a problem with DRM as I refuse to buy DRM content.

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