I can’t believe this wasn’t an April Fools joke: the EMI catalog goes DRM-free on the iTunes Store. Well, actually, it’s going DRM-free on every online store — and for a premium, which shouldn’t really be deserved just for the lack of DRM, but is acceptable considering the tracks will also be bumped to 256kbps instead of 128.
The one important question left unanswered now (because I couldn’t care less of whenever the Beatles will finally be available) is, how about all the little publishers who had been asking for their songs to be sold DRM-free on the iTunes Store for a while now? I don’t find it particularly unacceptable that Apple would have refused for so long to make an exception for those small labels, but would implement a premium system when the first major publisher gets a clue (especially considering the separation isn’t just warranted by the presence of DRM or not, but also the bitrate), but they better allow their other, smaller partners to join the fray without delay.
I love Jobs’s answer when asked if Disney videos will go DRM-free, though: it’s not the same, because movies have never really been available without DRM anyway (even videotapes have been protected for ages). Right. Nevermind that you can get a TV guide appointment to record them on DVD from a digital cable or satellite feed (I’m not mentioning Tivo because that isn’t quite unprotected); the point that DRM doesn’t matter in itself, it’s just that consumers aren’t used to it for music, is ludicrous, and I’m impressed (but not that surprised) Jobs could say that and keep a straight face after the whole piece he blogged.