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Microsoft Businesses Media Music Your Rights Online

Microsoft Set to Unlock EMI Songs, Too 171

linumax writes "Microsoft has stated that it may be close to reaching a deal with EMI to sell songs without anti-piracy protection via the Zune platform. This, from comments made by head of marketing for Zune Jason Reindorp. They come hard on the heels of EMI's announcement that a deal with Apple to sell songs without DRM protection through the iTunes Music Store has been struck. Mr Reindorp said: 'We've been saying for a while that we are aware that consumers want to have unprotected content. This does open things up a little bit. It potentially makes the competition more of a device-to-device or service-to-service basis, and will force the various services to really innovate.'"
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Microsoft Set to Unlock EMI Songs, Too

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  • Here's what I see... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by foodnugget ( 663749 ) <eric-slashdot@er ... m ['dma' in gap]> on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:48AM (#18633451)
    So there are a few directions this could take, here's the ones i can think of:
    1) They unlock certain songs, and shortly thereafter, claim these songs are now more-heavily pirated, and use it for justification to sell more DRM to recording agencies
    2) Same as #1, except they claim the songs are not selling better, and declare that DRM isn't an obstruction
    3) they still include some kind of DRM but call it something else
    4) They've actually seen the light, and are now going to try to innovate instead of regulate.
    Did I miss any?
    P.S. I don't have a lot of confidence in 4).
  • no thanks to MS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:49AM (#18633459) Journal

    It probably goes without saying, but this isn't some initiative on MS' part. It's riding Jobs' coattails, crying "me too!, me too!", as if MS is some kind of crusader for consumers' rights around music and DRM.

    Interesting how MS plays this as "opening up" things for the consumer. We'll see. I wonder how much progress MS has really made unencumbering consumers' music.

    • have they opened up the wireless sharing at all (ahem, "squirting")
    • have the at least allowed for non-drm music to be shared indefinitely?

    I don't hold my breath waiting for MS to do anything for me. I cringe they are jumping on this as a potential PR windfall for them and their Zune. Fortunately, the Zune was pretty much issued DOA, and this doesn't make a whit of difference.

  • by straponego ( 521991 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:10AM (#18633687)
    I went from buying about 10 CDs/month a few years ago to about 0 CDs/month because of RIAA tactics, the fact that buying spinning metal media discs is silly these days, and that the price was ridiculous. So I've got about 650 of those things in a closet, about the same bumber I had five years ago.

    If I can buy uncrippled, high quality media files, I will. ~256K VBR mp3 is about the lowest I'll consider. Yes, I can hear the difference, consistently. Apple's 256K AAC should meet this spec, though I haven't listened to much AAC.

    Now, it's time to optimize the price. I'm aware that the actual costs of distribution over the net is very low, and I don't care about marketing costs, because virtually nothing I listen to is marketed at all. I don't like being ripped off. $1/song is still a ripoff, but for uncrippled content I'll probably buy a few albums I've been wanting, just to encourage them.

    But. At $.50/song and $5.00/album, I'd buy 100 albums today. I've got a five year backlog to catch up on. Probably be good for another 10/month, too.

    Come on, music labels. Talk to your artists, see who's willing to experiment with the prices. Healthy industries with real competition experiment with prices to find the most profitable price points. You're pricing like a monopoly, but you're forgetting that we do have alternatives: Free legal music, free illegal music, boycott, video, games, books, etc. I suspect you'd make a lot more money if you weren't so greedy, scared, contemptuous and contemptible. Why not find out?

  • Re:Time to ... Wait! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:23AM (#18633809)
    Like all Microsoft products, it will blow chunks until 3.0 so keep waiting.

    I agree, although I would be more inclined to say that, like the vast majority of Microsoft products, it will always blow chunks. Worse, because Microsoft is kow-towing to the media companies, it will probably always be more restricted than competitive products.

    It has nothing significant to offer over iPods, let alone 90% of the more recent non-Apple players.

    Dead on. As a "recent non-Apple player" owner, I have a SanDisk Sansa. Is it as polished as a Nano, say? No, not even close ... but it was $69, has a gig of flash, equalizer, supports MTP and MSC protocols, supports drag and drop from Windows (doesn't need a proprietary application, which was important to me), has an FM radio and a nice GUI, works as a flash drive and a voice recorder, and so far has played everything I've thrown at it. The thing runs for over twenty hours on a single AAA and I haven't managed to scratch it yet.

    So somebody tell me again why I need a Zune? Or an iPod? I suppose if I were interested in portable video I'd feel differently, but as it happens I'm not. I just want to tuck the thing in a pocket and listen to my music.
  • Re:no thanks to MS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:36AM (#18633973) Homepage
    Actually, it's not even Apple's initiative. It's EMI's.

    In interviews after the announcement EMI said it was them, not Apple, that initiated the push for DRM-free music. They had already experimented with smaller versions of the program in the past. Internal tests said their own employees preferred the option to buy DRM-free tunes.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the timeline was: discussed it with Steve Jobs sometime in 2006, they were close to inking a deal, Jobs publishes his "Thoughts on Music", EMI and Apple push the new initiative. Jobs looks like a visionary, EMI looks like a marketplace innovator.

    In other words, how Jobs usually plans things: to make it look most appealing marketwise.
  • Zune Wireless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PixieDust ( 971386 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:45AM (#18634093)
    One interesting way this could play out is taking the Zune's wireless sharing abilities from a sort of novelty "That's kinda neat" feature to something actually marketable (not to mention a legal quagmire for Microsoft). They sell unprotected music, with 0 DRM, and then people start sharing songs between Zunes like crazy. I had a Zune for a while, and loved it, it's actually a great little device. If MS would make a few tweaks to it's usability and features, it would really be a great product. It's already better than an iPod (imho) of what it can do, usability, and features. The real question, however, is if Microsoft is just changing to adapt to what is really becoming a truly consumer driven market, or if they're actually trying to go after Apple's complete dominance of the MP3 device market. Either way, should make for an interesting show.

    I can't help but wonder when the first RIAA lawsuit is brought forth against Apple or MS for "Enabling Filesharing" by "Failing to protect copyrighted content". And then going after the HDD manufacturers for making access to the files so easy.

  • Almost there (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JumperCable ( 673155 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:52AM (#18634183)
    Give us lossless FLAK or WAVs and I'm sold. Enough of this lossy compression crap.
  • Re:Almost there (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CelticWhisper ( 601755 ) <celticwhisper@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:44PM (#18636645)
    Hence the request for FLAC. My FLAC files average 20-30MB (far smaller than WAV/AIFF) and the tradeoff in CPU power for encoding/decoding is more than acceptable. Testing on an AMD64, encoding a 12-track album takes about 5 minutes or less. Encoding on a G5 Quad (albeit as a single-threaded process) takes even less time.

    I was skeptical of "off" formats for a long time, sticking with MP3 for its playability and widespread compatibility. Once I discovered RockBox, though, along with Cog and Foobar2000 (though I'd known about the latter for quite some time due to its uber-lightweight reputation), I was just about an immediate convert to the Brotherhood of FLAC.

    Even then, what a lot of people don't realize is that you don't have to play FLAC files as-is if you don't want to. It's great for archiving, thus eliminating the need to tote CDs around everywhere, and can be converted to a lossy (i.e. smaller) format for use on portables. I have a 60GB iPod with RockBox, but even then I don't always load it up with FLAC files to play back on the go. For the kind of headphones I have and am not afraid to take with me (i.e. not my good ones), MP3 sounds just fine. However, for my nice headphones and/or speaker systems at home, FLAC offers CD-perfect quality and still eats up less disk space than uncompressed WAV or AIFF.

    Seriously, give FLAC a try. It's free so you have nothing to lose but a little of your time. If you decide it's not worth it, stick with MP3, at least you know that'll play everywhere.

All seems condemned in the long run to approximate a state akin to Gaussian noise. -- James Martin