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iTunes and DRM-free music explained

What you need to know about DRM-free iTunes

Will this new scheme discourage illegal file sharing?

No, according to experts – including EMI's Nicoli. No matter how the music is priced, illegal file swappers will continue to download and distribute music they haven't paid for, according to Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director for Jupiter Research. Nicoli says that removing DRM from EMI music tracks is about trusting customers.

Will other online stores follow EMI's example?

EMI is now offering its music DRM-free to all its digital distributors, not just to Apple, and the company says it's in discussions with Microsoft (for the Zune store) and others. But according to EMI, it's up to those distributors to decide whether, when and for what price they'll offer EMI's music DRM-free. DRM is likely to stay in place for subscription music services such as Napster, eMusic and Yahoo Music Unlimited.

What about other record labels?

Gartenberg estimates that the other three big labels – Sony BMG, Warner Music and Universal Music – will follow suit within the year. And Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, says he expects to offer more than half of iTunes' five million songs DRM-free by the end of the year.

I hear EMI is up for sale. What happens to this deal if EMI gets bought?

EMI has said it would entertain serious buyout offers. And Warner, which has previously made a bid for the company, has come out against DRM-free music. But EMI wouldn't comment on what might happen to the DRM-free music if the company is bought.

What, if anything, does this mean for video? EMI music videos will be available in DRM-free format at the current price. Apple has yet to respond to our inquiries about the other videos in the iTunes store.

The full version of this article appears in the July 07 issue of PC Advisor, on sale now.

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