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 Feb 03, 2005 - 10:00 AM - by Michael
* DRM-Free music service coming

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft
Michael Robertson, who brought you Lindows (stop the sniggering now, please) is bringing another thing geeks have wanted, or at least claimed to: a DRM-less music store online, and Ars Technica has some insights.

Robertson's big pitch is going to be DRM-free music, and he accused other online music "forces" of "trying to drive consumers away from MP3 towards proprietary systems." The accusation obviously sticks. Microsoft, Apple, and others are pushing their own proprietary DRM schemes in the marketplace, but is the sole purpose of that to "lock out some consumers and force everyone to buy a particular company's player or software program," as Robertson suggests? Thomas Slattery of California has sued Apple Computer for engaging in such practices practices, but the issue is more complex, and I think it highlights how MP3tunes is likely to fail. While one can easily look at a company like Apple and talk about product lock-ins, there's something else we have to remember: you can't just start an online music store. It takes legal agreements, and a lot of negotiating, to get music up online. If the big music companies are being stingy with DRM restrictions, what makes Robertson think anyone will license their catalog to him, for sale without DRM? We have to stop and think back to the epic tales of Steve Jobs demanding the same licensing agreement for all... what's Robertson to do?


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