There's no evidence that the music labels have plans to drop their silly DRM schemes any time soon, but at least it's being talked about at a high level. Even before Steve Jobs' recent anti-DRM pronouncement, there had been rumors that a major label was flirting with the idea of offering unprotected music downloads. The latest rumor gets a bit more specific, with word that EMI is in talks with different online music retailers to offer its music catalog in MP3 format. EMI has already made some moves that suggest its stance on online music and piracy is evolving. In January it made the surprise announcement that it would work with controversial Chinese search engine Baidu to offer free streaming music and ad-supported downloads. It also announced that it will abandon any plans to implement copy protection on CDs. Of course, it's still all talk at this point. The company is said to be shopping around for a big upfront payment from a digital music store before it agrees to such a plan, suggesting that its first priority is still on getting the quick profit. Ultimately, for the record labels to thrive in this environment, they're going to have to take a longer-term approach, and one that recognizes that the economics of the industry are changing.
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