The music industry’s war against file-sharing has just developed a new front.
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced it will launch a digital music store later this year offering millions of songs in the DRM-free MP3 format from more than 12,000 record labels. EMI Music’s digital catalog is the latest addition to the store. Every song and album in the Amazon.com digital music store will be available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software. Amazon’s DRM-free MP3s will free customers to play their music on virtually any of their personal devices — including PCs, Macs(TM), iPods(TM), Zunes(TM), Zens(TM) — and to burn songs to CDs for personal use.
Indeed. Without any Digital Rights Management capabilities, EMI is placing into the hands of the public precisely the same file types as could be found on file-sharing systems all throughout this here little series of tubes. And as there are many of us out here who remember Sony BMG’s fateful (and ultimately unprofitable) decision to force the issue with malware hidden on every CD sold, EMI looks to take the popular front and break against the RIAA-allied pack.
And that alone might be enough to convince some people to buy their music online.
What goes unsaid, but not entirely unpondered, is what this means to the iTunes’ limited-DRM music collection and Napster’s full-DRM files. It has constantly been a watchphrase of the free-market economic theory to let the market decide. With this development, there will soon be the chance for the market to fully and completely engage in the decision process.
Good for Amazon and EMI Music, who are performing the economic equivalent of a boarding action on the high seas while the RIAA coalition is still piping “Sweepers, man your brooms.”
[Turn Signal: Fiat Lux]