Monday, 14 August 2006

Music downloads: MP3s and DRM - the right direction at last?

What interests me most about the news last week of mobile phone maker Nokia buying digital music provider Loudeye is, not the speculation about Nokia possibly mounting a challenge to Apple's all-conquering iPod and its cutting out the middleman in music sales, so much as some reports that Nokia intended that music downloaded via their phones would be playable not just on those phones, but on all digital music players - unlike with Apple's iTunes downloads.

I couldn't find mention of that point in Nokia's official press release, so I don't know where the news reports that mention the point (eg. Hemscott) got that info from. I hope it really is officially what Nokia are planning.

Following the news a few weeks ago that Yahoo is offering MP3 music downloads with no digital rights management (anti-copying) restrictions, I wonder if things are finally starting to move in the right direction - if the big companies are starting to realise that consumers want easy, unrestricted downloads without DRM which they can freely copy to other devices they own to play at home, on the move, in the car etc as they choose, and are willing to pay a fair price for them - rather than being forced to pay through the nose for buying the same song or music several times over for each different device they want to play it on?

As I mentioned in my BT Vision post, in fact it's illegal and a breach of copyright in the UK to rip your own paid-for DVDs to watch on your PMP, or to rip your own CDs to play back on your MP3 player, though most British consumers don't realise that this kind of "fair use" is not in fact allowed in the UK under our absurd copyright laws. So it's about time that the record companies started allowing people to play paid-for downloads freely on any MP3 players or other devices that they own. Let's hope this is the start of a trend.

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