Is Amazon Working On A DRM-Free Music Download Store?

from the recognizing-apple's-achilles-heel dept

I remember conversations from as far back as 1998 about whether or not Amazon.com should offer a downloadable music store -- but the company has always been cautious despite plenty of rumors. Way back in 2003, there were rumors that the company would team up with Apple to somehow offer iTunes songs through Amazon.com -- a rumor that failed to pan out. Earlier this year, there were rumors that Amazon was talking to record labels about, once again, trying to launch its own music download store, perhaps with its own hardware as well (suggesting someone confused the offering with Microsoft's ill-fated Zune product). However, this summer it was reported that Amazon had decided that it wasn't worth competing with Apple in music downloads, given how strong Apple's position in the market has been.

However, perhaps recent revelations have opened Amazon's eyes to Apple's big achilles heel: the copy protection they use. The record labels, for all their obsession over copy protection, know that Apple's use of copy protection has given the company tremendous leverage over them in negotiations over pricing for digital downloads. They've also just started to understand that there's value in selling unprotected MP3s. With all that in mind, the latest rumor (as submitted by John) is that Amazon is back on the negotiating trail, pitching the record labels on a DRM-free music download store. If they're smart, they'd be pitching it as a way to break Apple's stranglehold on the market -- but given how most of the other Amazon music download store rumors have panned out, we're not holding our breath. However, the rumor also notes that Amazon is supposedly offering variable pricing on songs -- something that the record labels have been pushing for (unsuccessfully) for years with Apple. So, perhaps it's a bit of horse trading: Amazon gives the labels variable pricing, if they agree to give up copy protection. Still, after seeing just how awful Amazon's foray into video downloads has been, you'd have to hope that they would only use that experience to learn what not to do with any new offering.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 3:14pm

    drm free is great.. variable pricing - i dont know. $.99 a song is good - Going up and above will definately test the market.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 3:15pm

    I won't spend more than $1 a song - I would rather burn and rip songs from Itunes than pay more than that.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Peter, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 3:25pm

    im sure im...

    Im sure im just stating what everyone already knows but when you burn a DRM song on a cd (at least a wma DRM song), the DRM attributes don't carry over onto the cd. So when you burn a wma DRM song, you can just rip it right after and no more DRM. So I don't understand why there is DRM.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 3:27pm

    yes god please

    Thats all I have to say.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 3:28pm

    Re: im sure im...

    Its a hurdle. By making it harder they cut down on some (perhaps immeasurably tiny) amount of casual piracy. Its supposed to be easier to tell your friends to download this cool song on itunes than it is for you to burn it and rip it and email it to them.

     

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  6.  
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    Petréa Mitchell, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 3:42pm

    Re: im sure im...

    "Im sure im just stating what everyone already knows..."

    Sadly, the vast majority of people buying DRMed music do not know that. They only know that one day they try to make a copy for some reason that makes sense to them and it doesn't work.

    Has anyone ever done a study trying to quantify the cost of DRM to hardware/software makers and retailers in the form of support calls saying "Hey, my computer doesn't work, I can't copy this thing?"

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Peter, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: im sure im...

    true, but I was trying to point out how fairly simple it is to get around DRM.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 3:46pm

    Re: yes god please

    That goes double for me. The only reason I don't subscribe to eMusic is I wouldn't be downloading enough tracks per month to justify the subscription price.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Re: yes god please

    Could we {as in the public at large,} Form a publicly owned/operated corporation. If every /.'r coughed up say $10 every two months, could we gather enough to buy the rights, Break the DRM, then Share for a nominal fee??

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Stoned4Life, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: yes god please

    form a public operated corporation and pay $5 a month for DRM free music?

    That's like paying for limewire

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    anonymous coward, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 4:23pm

    eMusic has the alternative non-DRM market stitched up and iTunes and M$ will be warring over the DRM market, so Amazon should either do it without DRM or skip it.

     

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  12.  
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    Erv Server, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 7:28pm

    DRM

    I hope Amazon does start selling music but I hope they offer DRM as an addon because I love DRM

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Pleepus, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 7:46pm

    Re: DRM

    Are you aware of what DRM is?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Kris, Dec 19th, 2006 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Re: DRM

    No, what is it?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 2:40am

    Re: Re: Re: DRM

    OH man catch up with the times, it makes the music sound so much better and is so much clearer than that crappy old MP3 stuff. All the best music has it now.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    I Heart DRM, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: DRM

    Yeah, I even got DRM for my dog and it's great, he doesn't go into other peoples yards anymore. The only problem is that he doesn't fit into too many dog carriers anymore.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    refize, Dec 28th, 2006 @ 12:52am

    Another great DRM-free mp3 store is www.iomoio.com. Their holiday’s bonus scheme (till 23:59:59 12/31/2006) is amazing. I've deposited $30 and got $60 credited into my account. I mean it's already cheap (price per song is only $0.15) and now with bonuses like that, you can say that one song costs ONLY $0.075. SEVEN cents for DRM-free mp3? I DEFINITELY CAN LIVE WITH THAT:)

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Bob, Mar 24th, 2007 @ 7:48am

    Audio Watermarking will be the new DRM

    No one here has mentioned Audio Watermarking. Audio Watermarking allows companys to embed copyright information into an MP3 file. The benefit is that it is undetectable by listeners and it will stay with the file when converted to other audio formats. Even if the MP3 file is broadcast over a loudspeaker and recorded, the watermark stays with the file!

    If you plan on sharing your watermarked MP3 on a peer-to-peer network, be aware that the ability for these companys to scan file sharing networks for these watermarks also exsists.

    I believe watermarking will effectivly solve the file sharing problem in that it will give users the freedom to move any song file on any player, but also will deter sharing over networks by putting the fear of detection in place.

    Just my two cents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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