UMG Ditching (Some) DRM

Home taping is killing music.Never would’ve expected Universal to be the second major label to try selling (some) DRM-free digital files. UMG honcho Doug Morris is an crotchety bald prick who loathes customers who own MP3 players: “These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it.” So it’s a bit of a shocker that he’d free up his intellectual property like this.

Then again, he’s not doing it out of the kindness of his heart. He’s doing it because the major labels are desperate and sinking fast. And he fucking hates Apple. A source “close to the situation who did not want to be identified” talked to Billboard:

“We have no illusions that DRM can knock out all piracy. It’s a speed bump. The lack of interoperability specifically inhibits the growth of the market overall. This monopoly-like position Apple has—to dictate terms, to set prices, to limit the way we sell our music—no retailer should have that power. It’s not fair and it’s not good for healthy competition.”

Which explains why this limited DRM-free test won’t be available through iTunes…

People who want to legally purchase digital files from UMG will have to do so from Rhapsody, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, PureTracks, Transworld, Google (via gBox), and—if they can get their shit together by January—Amazon’s upcoming service.

We’ll see how it all shakes out starting on August 21. No word yet on file format, bitrate, pricing, or anything else that might actually indicate whether or not this will be a decent value.

Previously: EMI Ditches DRM: No April Fool.

MP3: Nelly – “Grillz” from Sweatsuit (Universal Records)

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