Apple goes DRM-free with iTunes Plus

31 May 2007

Apple yesterday made digital rights management (DRM)-free music available for sale worldwide in its iTunes store.

Customers will now be able to download restriction-free, higher-quality songs from iTunes for €1.29 per song, although upgrading to iTunes 7.2 is required before users can view and download this new catalogue.

The existing catalogue of DRM music, still priced at 99c each, is still available with the same restrictions where users can only share their iTunes downloads among five different computers and only in the AAC file format.

Users, however, will not have to re-download their existing collection but can upgrade to DRM-free for 30c per song.

Currently there are over five million songs available on iTunes, which are expected to be available in the DRM-free format eventually. EMI has also added its back catalogue to iTunes for the first time.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, said: “We expect more than half of the songs on iTunes will be offered in iTunes Plus versions by the end of this year.”

Apple has also launched iTunes U, a collaborative effort with US universities and colleges to make available a large selection of free podcasts from course lectures to lab demonstrations.

Prestigious institutes such as MIT, UC Berkeley, Duke and Standford have already added content to iTunes U.

“ITunes U makes it easy for anyone to access amazing educational material from many of the country’s most respected colleges and universities,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice-president of iTunes.

So far no plans have been announced to extend iTunes U to European educational institutes.

By Marie Boran