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Yahoo eyeing unrestricted MP3 downloads

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Thursday, July 20, 2006
News Categories: Digital Media

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Yahoo wants to offer music downloads without copy protection, according to recent comments made by company executives. “We’ve been publicly trying to convince record labels that they should be selling MP3s for a while now,” Ian Rogers, a director of product management at Yahoo, said on the official Yahoo Music blog this week. “Our position is simple: DRM (digital rights management) doesn’t add any value for the artist, label (who are selling DRM-free music every day—the Compact Disc), or consumer, the only people it adds value to are the technology companies who are interested in locking consumers to a particular technology platform.” Rogers’ comments on DRM come in an announcement for a new Jessica Simpson song that can be personalized with your own name. The song costs $1.99 and is an unrestricted MP3 file when purchased and downloaded.

Rogers goes on to say that DRM is costly for online music stores and is of no benefit to the consumer. “We’ve also been saying that DRM has a cost. It’s very expensive for companies like Yahoo! to implement,” he said. “We’d much rather have our engineers building better personalization, recommendations, playlisting applications, community apps, etc, instead of complex provisioning systems which at the end of the day allow you to burn a CD and take the DRM back off, anyway! And on the consumer end there is certainly some discount built into that $0.99 download for the fact that you can burn a limited number of times, can’t play it on your Squeezebox, can’t DJ it with your DJ software, and can’t make a movie out of it with iMovie? I certainly hope so. Un-DRM’d content is implicitly more valuable to a consumer.”

In February at the Music 2.0 conference, Yahoo Music’s General Manager, Dave Goldberg, urged record labels to consider selling music without copy protection. Goldberg said DRM henders consumer usage and pointed to eMusic as a successful online store selling unrestricted MP3 downloads. A Yahoo spokeswoman said that Goldberg was “trying to move the industry forward,” and wanted to prompt discussion “about what the consumer experience is.”

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Comments

1

The labels won’t listen. It makes too much sense.

Posted by proanim8r on July 20, 2006 at 10:53 AM (PDT)

2

Thank you, Mr. Rogers & Mr. Goldberg for fighting the good fight. You are 100% correct, although, as proanim8r said, the RIAA & its members will surely turn a deaf ear. :(

Posted by Fangorn in Texas on July 20, 2006 at 11:04 AM (PDT)

3

Rock on Yahoo!

Apple are you listening?  Hello?

Posted by nodrmformethanks on July 20, 2006 at 11:09 AM (PDT)

4

I would switch to Yahoo in a second to get DRM free music. DRM is so annoying. The first thing I do is strip it off. It makes buying music off itunes annoying and makes my songs sound worse.

Posted by ort on July 20, 2006 at 11:18 AM (PDT)

5

How exactly are they going to get the subscription model to work without DRM, implement an honor system? I believe the original Napster showed that this doesn’t work.

Posted by fondy44 on July 20, 2006 at 12:34 PM (PDT)

6

Finally, someone with some common sense. I refuse to buy music files encoded with DRM. The very concept is ridiculous.

Posted by Kupo on July 20, 2006 at 1:58 PM (PDT)

7

Finally, someone who understands. I love eMusic (even with it’s limited selection) because of the non-DRM. 

As for the subscription MP3s, those probably would continue to be DRM’d.  I think Ian was talking in regards to selling individual MP3s.

Posted by df57 on July 20, 2006 at 3:21 PM (PDT)

8

I would buy their song in a heartbeat, I hate DRM so much that it is the reason that I won’t buy online.

Posted by Miket019 on July 20, 2006 at 3:21 PM (PDT)

9

Emusic, limited selection?  HA! Growing bigger every day.  I would like to think of their lack of Top 40 material as a filter, clearing all of the crap out.

Posted by coprock on July 20, 2006 at 3:36 PM (PDT)

10

Yahoo! (every pun intended)

This is probably the best thing I’ve heard for a while on the digital download front. MP3s are compatible with everything.

I think eMusic (DRM-free) is the #2 download service behind iTunes so the major labels should definitely take note.

Posted by Amalea on July 20, 2006 at 3:42 PM (PDT)

11

Yeah!  Let’s hear it again for eMusic!

Posted by suprape on July 20, 2006 at 4:22 PM (PDT)

12

ort, if I were you (and I pretty much am for this purpose) I would just pirate my music since unless you’re burning it breaking drm is illegal anyway. Or buy CDs, or use eMusic, perhaps. If you don’t like that Apple and others use DRM, don’t support it.
And fondy, subscription models would still use DRM, because you don’t own the music (models in which you pay monthly and can download a certain amount of songs and stream unlimited songs, however, might work without drm). When you do, you should be able to do whatever you want with it (within reason).

Posted by catboy17 on July 20, 2006 at 8:38 PM (PDT)

13

It’s a nice dream, but to sell DRM music Yahoo will essentially end up with the same selection as eMusic.  I’m an eMusic user but the fact is that the selection is not the best.  It’s got some good stuff, but it just isn’t ever going to challenge a service that can offer the big names.

It would be nice if Apple could do a DRM free service but let’s face it none of the big labels will go along with it.

Posted by Jeffery Simpson on July 20, 2006 at 8:52 PM (PDT)

14

People,
I have an idea. Buy CDs. Then rip them to high quality MP3 format using any one of countless free CD rippers/MP3 encoders. You can get many new releases for $9.99 at various online vendors and at the mass merchants (i.e. Target). If your looking for something a little older (3 months or more) - even better. Join a CD Club like yourmusic.com (CDs are $5.99 no S/H all the time) or BMG. Looking for something more obscure? Again, check the online retailers. I find lots of good deals on more obscure music on buy.com. I am sure there are a ton of other good sites. If you play your cards right, you can get a CD for the same price or less that a downloaded album. Also, you have the highest quality MP3 you desire since you have the original disc. Oh, then there is the disc itself, which will still be there when your hard drive crashes.
I don’t know. Just a thought.

Posted by ptzink on July 20, 2006 at 9:47 PM (PDT)

15

I’m surprised no one has commented on how totally batshit the idea of personalized songs is. I just hope no artist I really like gets into that, or I’d have to download every version.

Posted by rainking187 on July 20, 2006 at 10:26 PM (PDT)

16

Note to Yahoo:
1. Will the RIAA care? No. Their current business model still making big profits, so why change, and the fact that lawmakers are on their side.
2. Look at how many people using iTMS. Fact is the public doesn’t care about having DRM, as long as the “restrictions” are quite lenient like apple’s fairplay. All the regular Joe knows is, he paid and downloaded a song from iTMS, and his iPod plays it just fine.

Posted by pika2000 on July 20, 2006 at 11:30 PM (PDT)

17

Serving the consumer? Maybe.

But I suspect ‘serving Yahoo!’ is the real reason. MP3 sales completely opens up the huge iPod market share to Yahoo!; no more reliance on splitting the remaining 23% of the DAP market with other Play for Sure/Janus/WMA download services.

Shame that the RIAA will be complete deaf to the idea.

Posted by flatline response on July 20, 2006 at 11:40 PM (PDT)

18

I now love Yahoo.

Posted by Steffen on July 20, 2006 at 11:54 PM (PDT)

19

Good idea. The MP3 format can be used on virtually any music player (except that lame Sony model released last year that played only ATRAC).

But the thing is this: why would the big labels accept it from Yahoo now? Lord knows that Apple would like to be free of it (to shut the whiners up). If the labels won’t do it for Apple then they won’t for Yahoo.

Posted by Pikemann_Urge on July 21, 2006 at 2:55 AM (PDT)

20

A legal DRM-free shop will be a wonderful thing, but fat chance it’s ever going to happen. 

Does anyone know if there is something that will remove DRM from iTMS downloaded music that actually works?  jHymn seems to have been crippled.  I’d really like to get ahold of a DRM stripper for iTunes as i’ts the DRM that’s keeping me for buying anything from them.  I mwan what happens if in the future I decide on some model of player other than an iPod?  and I want to play iTunes music in WinAmp because iTunes is not that good a media player, but I can’t because of the DRM.

Posted by phennphawcks on July 21, 2006 at 4:28 AM (PDT)

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