December 7, 2006 | By Fred von Lohmann

DRM Fading for Music: The Year in Review

Almost exactly one year ago, I predicted the beginning of the end for DRM on digital music. Now EMI has announced the release of the new Norah Jones single on Yahoo! Music in DRM-free MP3 format (many will remember that Yahoo! has been urging the major labels to give up DRM).

So let's pause to recap the year in music DRM's slow demise, including:

  • Rhapsody and Napster begin streaming to any browser;
  • Major labels all give up on CD copy protection in US market in the wake of the Sony-BMG rootkit debacle;
  • Major labels abandon DRM-laden SACD and DVD-A formats;
  • Sony-BMG releases Jessica Simpson song in MP3;
  • Disney's Hollywood Records releases Jesse McCartney album as MP3s;
  • EMI artist Lily Allen releases new track as MP3;
  • EMI releases Norah Jones and Reliant K tracks as MP3s;
  • eMusic becomes the #2 online music store selling nothing but MP3 files from independent labels.

Here's to more of the same in 2007. As I said in December 2005, "once the DRM is gone, we can see what a real, robust, competitive digital music marketplace looks like."


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