Napster announces DRM free music; Offering Mac, iPod, and iPhone compatibility

May 20, 2008

napster-logo.jpgNapster recently announced that it will be offering over six million DRM free songs. What does DRM mean? DRM stands for digital rights management It’s a software that protects the songs from unlimited copying.

Napster has gotten all the major labels like EMI, Universal, Warners, and Sony BMG to sell tracks for free from rights-restriction. This is breaking news since Napster will be now offering 50% more DRM-free tracks than any of the other music services available. Good news for Napster, bad news for the Apple iTunes store. To date EMI is the only one that has agreed to sell music to the Apple iTunes store DRM-free. It looks like iTunes has some catching up to do.

Several have questioned why Napster has snagged this incredible deal. Music retailers like iTunes, Wal-Mart, and Amazon sell more music than Napster. Currently Apple iTunes is the number one music retailer in the USA. Bill Rosenblatt, DRM specialist, and the president of Giantsteps Media Technology Strategies said, “Record companies don’t like dealing with Apple, because Apple is in a position where it can dictate the economic terms and dictate the business model,” What’s going to draw people away from iTunes? One answer is to get rid of DRM.”

Since the tracks on Napster are DRM free Apple users will be able to play the tracks on their Macs, iPods, and eventually iPhone. All you have to do is sign up, purchase, and download your selections. Napster prices are comparable to those found on the iTunes store. You pay 99-cents per track. Although I’m an iTunes user I’ll check out the service to see how I like it. If you are a Safari user you’ll have to use another browser to access the website. Currently Napster is not compatible with Safari.

Napster is planning on making all its tracks available through its Napster Mobile DRM-free service in the future.

Napster was created by Shawn Fanning, a college student, in 1999. It started as an online music file sharing service. Its popularity grew, and thousands flocked to the website to download and share music files with Napster users. In 2001 an injunction was filed against Napster to prevent the trading of copyrighted music on its network. Napster was forced to shut down its network in July 2001.

On May 17, 2002 Napster was bought by the German media firm Bertelsmann for 85 million. Roxio, Inc acquired the Napster brand and logo at a bankruptcy auction. Roxio rebranded the music service as Napster 2.0. Roxio is a division of Sonic Solutions. In 2003 Roxio sold the rest of its company to Sonic Solutions and chanted Napsters name to Napster, Inc.

Do you think DRM free music will make Napster a strong contender? Dave has written an article at TECH.BLORGE.

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