Apple announced today that it would be making all of EMI's music catalogue available from it's iTunes store WITHOUT Digital Rights Management - meaning that the music will be able to be copied to any other music player or played on any other computer without any software controlled restrictions that most other online music retailers including Apple use to control the use downloaded music.
This will be an interesting development to track in terms of trends in the sale of music and film content online.
Users will be able to choose between the origianl DRM protected tracks, or the unprotected alternative. The unprotected tracks will be mastered at a higher quality than the DRM protected tracks, so will offer better quality and being unrestricted will be usable on pretty much any digital music player, but will cost about 1/3 more (about 30 cents).
This annoucement makes all the more sense of Steve Job's recent outspoken statement regarding the future of music distribution and his desire to see DRM free music. This now seems like clever positioning prior to this very interesting announcement. EMI will certainly appear as pioneering and brave following this announcement.
I am not sure that I find the DRM of Apple that intrusive (unlike the Microsoft equivelant), although I would prefer to have DRM music naturally so that in future I could use the music on any platform. So I am not sure I would pay a premium. Good on EMI though!