Apple and EMI revealed a ground-breaking deal on Monday for Apple to sell the music label's songs free from copy protection limits.
At EMI's London headquarters, the company's Chief Executive Eric Nicoli joined by Apple Chief Executive and co-founder Steve Jobs announced that the first DRM-free songs will be available from the iTunes store in May. The new songs will be available at 256Kbps (AAC), and will cost U.S. $1.29. The first DRM-free songs will be provided by EMI, while Jobs believes that by the end of 2007, all the songs available through iTunes will be DRM-free.
Current users of the iTunes store will have the chance to download new versions of their already purchased songs, by additionally paying U.S $0.3 for each song. The downloaded songs will be DRM-free and they will be encoded at 256 Kbps. The currently available songs (with DRM) in the iTunes store will remain as they are for all those who do not want to upgrade their music libraries, and they will cost U.S $0.99.
Apple is focusing on interoperability and audio quality through the new plan for the downloadable songs. Jobs said that Apple trusts the consumers and that a DRM-free world would not increase piracy through P2P networks, since "the best way to fight piracy is to offer a good value for money."
"Music companies will earn more when they bring high-quality and reasonably priced products," Jobs said.
Jobs also said that Apple is working on offering Beatles' songs without DRM, although he did not gave additional details.
Earlier this year, Jobs called on the world's four major record companies, including EMI, to start selling songs online without DRM.
Jobs argued that there appeared to be no benefit for the record companies in selling more than 90 percent of their music without DRM on compact discs, while selling the remaining small percentage of music online encumbered with DRM.
Executives at several rival record companies questioned whether EMI had done sufficient market research to justify the move.