January 8th, 2009
08:17 AM GMT
NEW YORK - This week Apple Computer made it a lot easier to enjoy music purchased on iTunes. While we were all busy debating the health of Steve Jobs and his failure to make a cameo appearance at Macworld Tuesday, his substitute, Phil Schiller, announced that effective immediately 8 million songs will be available without digital rights management (DRM). Those are the restrictions that prevented song sharing or playing purchased songs on other devices. Two million more songs will be available by April.
Apple Vice President Philip Schiller delivers the MacWorld keynote address Tuesday in San Francisco
Some Mac enthusiasts were underwhelmed by the news. After all there were always ways to get around the copyright restrictions. But for someone like me with little time and even less tech know-how, this definitely makes things easier.
Apple finally got the major record labels to agree to kill DRM in exchange for a tiered pricing system for iTunes. Songs will now be 69 cents, 99 cents or $1.29 (59p, 79p, or 99p if you are in the U.K.). Apple had long resisted moving away from its one-price-fits-all program, but given that they managed to get some older songs priced lower, it seems like a decent compromise - at least to me.
What I am NOT happy about is the fact that I have to pay to upgrade my existing library to DRM free format. Thirty cents a song. I have 286 songs in my purchased file, and that doesn't count the many others I bought on my old desktop that I still can't figure out how to transfer onto my new iPod. It will cost me $85 at least to upgrade the recent purchases. It is not a huge amount, but in these economic times, I would much rather spend it somewhere else.
How do you feel about the changes? Are you mad about paying the fee to upgrade your existing songs or happy to have the flexibility?
And what about the iPod itself? Ditching DRM also means that people can now play iTunes music on any kind of player. Is there a better vehicle, or is Apple still doing it right when it comes to the gadget that revolutionized music for the masses.
Let us know what you think.
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