Yahoo Seriously Considering Unrestricted MP3 Downloads?

from the that-would-be-nice... dept

Back in February, a Yahoo exec spoke up at a music conference saying that the recording industry should start selling unrestricted MP3s, rather than continuing down the path of the DRM-encumbered music files. This makes sense for a variety of reasons. First, the industry already sells DRM-free versions of most songs when they sell CDs. Second, adding DRM is basically assuming that your customers are criminals. Most importantly, though, copy protection doesn’t even solve the problem the industry claims it’s solving. All it takes is one file to be available for the song to be available everywhere, and any copy protection will be broken pretty quickly. So, DRM only acts as an inconvenience for legitimate customers (and, in some cases, only encourages them to go out and get unauthorized files). Also, despite the claims that unencumbered MP3 files would kill the industry, there’s plenty of evidence that’s not true. eMusic and Allofmp3.com have both shown that people are willing to pay for unencumbered MP3 files, even if they’re available for free elsewhere. People will pay for convenience.

So, with the Yahoo exec saying those things back in February, the obvious followup question was why isn’t Yahoo doing this? It appears they might be trying. Hans Mast writes in to let us know that Yahoo is surveying some of its Yahoo Music subscribers to see how they would feel about unrestricted MP3s. Hans interprets this to mean that Yahoo is about to do so — though, that’s not entirely clear. Yahoo runs surveys of this nature all the time, but it doesn’t mean they have anything planned. If anything, perhaps they’re just going to use the data to go to the recording industry and plead their case that this is a good idea. Of course, the questions also indicate that they want to charge $1.09 for the unencrypted MP3s, so perhaps they’re trying variable pricing with DRM-free music costing a bit more.


Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Yahoo Seriously Considering Unrestricted MP3 Downloads?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
23 Comments
Sean (user link) says:

Being a Canadian :o...

I’d probably still download mine for free. But it is nice to see that someone may be taking the initiative and lead the path to DRM free music. I’ve bought a few CDs that come with this DRM bullshit and it is quite annoying. I love my mixed artist CDs for taking on long trips 🙁 Though if something like Yahoo may be coming out with DID infact work out well I may consider downloading my favorite tracks from them, just to help the artist out.

That’s my two cents.

Don says:

Yahoo’s venture will fail, and the reason for that failure is listed in the last sentence. The reason for eMusic’s and ALLofMP3’s success is not just unencumbered music but reasonable prices. I don’t mind laying $.25 for tunes. I don’t think I’d mind paying $.50 for tunes. I’m certainly not paying $1 or more for tunes.

RenderingSanity says:

I just joined allofmp3.com after taking a quick look around and seeing that they have many of my favorite artists which I have trouble finding on peer 2 peer networks.

I would more than happily pay for my music on a site here if it wasn’t so freaking expensive and if I knew there weren’t about 20 middlemen skimming a bit off the top each time with next to nothing making it to the artists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Unencumbered yet still trackable

What they need to do is find a way to add a signature to the file. Don’t encumber functionality, but at least make sure they can determine who leaked it.

There’s no need to treat ALL customers as criminals if there’s a way to identify WHICH customer truly isa criminal (that would be the one that shares the files).

Of course, I don’t like the music industry in general, and its been years since bought a “new” cd or obtained any other music that has recently been made. So maybe I’m not all that qualified to speak on this topic.

BUT, I do purchase movies, and these methods could just as valid in that segment of the entertainment industry.

Jay says:

Still encumbered, Duh!

So Anonymous Coward thinks a complete and utter invasion of our privacy is just fine, as long as it keep the music industry middlemen in business.

AC doesn’t understand that just as DRM can be removed, so can the invasive spying code he suggests.

The music industry is basing their business model on making the public (i.e. the legislature and judiciary) believe that when we buy music, we are only buying permission to listen to it whenever we want, and we are not actually purchasing a product.

Of course, this leads into a discussion of the whole copyright culture and patent problems, etc. etc., but lets not go there.

What it comes down to is that the music industry is making the same arguments against un-DRMed MP3s that were made against sheet music, video cassette recorders, records, cassette tapes… the list goes on and on.

And in every case they were wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Still encumbered, Duh!

The music industry is basing their business model on making the public (i.e. the legislature and judiciary) believe that when we buy music, we are only buying permission to listen to it whenever we want, and we are not actually purchasing a product.

Which is exactly why Sony is being sued and their agruements of “protecting the artist” are nothing but talk. If it is a licence then they need to pay the artist the proper licence royalty rates and not sales rates. If it’s a sale then we own it and should be afforded those rights of ownership. The industry can’t have it both ways.

C says:

Tracing tunes

Traceability also is a problem. If someone steals the MP3s from me (pretty easy to do with big USB memory sticks) when I am away from my computer (I use my laptop at work), then that person shares them online, I’m the one who gets in trouble for it.

That’s no good either.

I stopped buying all CDs when they started DRMing some of them. I’ve already had WMP refuse to play legitimate DVDs I own, I don’t need trouble with my music too.

Mp3 maker (user link) says:

Being a Canadian

I’d probably still download mine for free. But it is nice to see that someone may be taking the initiative and lead the path to DRM free music. I’ve bought a few CDs that come with this DRM bullshit and it is quite annoying. I love my mixed artist CDs for taking on long trips 🙁 Though if something like Yahoo may be coming out with DID infact work out well I may consider downloading my favorite tracks from them, just to help the artist out.

That’s my two cents.

Steve Starliper says:

DRM Constraints

I’m a DJ and I would love to buy mp3s and mp3g’s buy the song. I would be more than willing to pay more for a file or a song with no DRM constraints. I would pay as much as 2 or 3 dollars a song with no problem. I’m about the artist getting paid, not them getting ripped off. I feel that itunes and napster are a rip off. I feel every company should sell music with no DRM constraints at a higher price. Nobody really wants to buy constricted files or upload illegally. Please convince the record industry that profits will skyrocket if they sell music files this way. I buy my music off Amazon who is already selling this way, but their selection is weak. As for Karaoke downloads, I have yet to find a download source.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...