Rumors continue to swirl that the iTunes Store may be going DRM-free starting today, Tuesday December 9. According to the sources on ElectronLibre, the collections of three major record labels will be available unencumbered by Apple’s Fairplay DRM: Universal Music, SonyBMG Music and Waner Music. This list encompasses three of the four major record lables; EMI, the fourth major music label, already offers higher-quality iTunes Plus DRM-free tracks on the iTunes store.
Steve Jobs has repeatedly said that he would like to abolish DRM restrictions in favor of a more open music store along the lines of the Amazon MP3 music store. Interestingly enough, the timing of this move looks to piggyback the Christmas shopping season. Perhaps given the economic slump, Jobs has been successful in selling his DRM-free vision as a way to increase sales in an otherwise lackluster holiday shopping. There is no word yet on if the DRM-free collections will also be offered at the higher bit rate like other iTunes Plus tracks. Unfortunately, it looks like this potential openness in music does not extend to videos in the iTunes store: recent news surrounding HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) restrictions in Apple’s new MacBooks with DisplayPort adaptors point to increased restrictions on digital video files. DRM only hurts legitimate users, as pirates almost always find a way around the roadblocks. Why can’t Hollywood borrow the lessons from the music industry?