Friday, December 28, 2007

Warner Rolls over to DRM Free

Until now Warner has been resisting selling music downloads in MP3 format without DRM. However this week they relented and signed a deal with Amazon. This raises the number MP3 files available for download via Amazon to close on 3 million songs. Major music labels Universal, EMI and thousands of independent labels had already signed large portions of their catalogues to Amazon. Only Sony remains in the DRM camp and the odds are they will roll over very soon.

Interestingly the recording industry had argued that DRM itself is not what makes some songs incompatible with some digital players, but the fact that there are different versions of DRM in use. The fact that Apple DRM was proprietary and not licensed to others was a major area of concern.

Amazon only sells MP3s, rather than a mix of protected and unprotected music on offer at stores such as iTunes and Zune.

What does all this tell the book industry?
· Multiple, complex and proprietary DRM doesn’t work and is not acceptable to the consumer.
· The major houses dictate the rules and never work as one so.
· The Audible model on audiobooks is not sustainable and is counter productive to the industry.

The industry needs to quickly establish the middle ground on formats and service before others dictate it to them. However this has been the challenge for the last few years and the reality is this consensus is difficult in an industry that is so fragmented and poor at collaboration.