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Wal-Mart Begins Selling DRM-free Music Online
[August 23, 2007]

Wal-Mart Begins Selling DRM-free Music Online

TMCnet Contributing Editor
A new trend is emerging in the fight over copyright protection for digital music. While the music production industry is mainly concerned with users violating copyrights and illegally downloading music online, some online retailers are taking matters into their own hands in order to stay profitable.

Perhaps these retailers realize that in many cases it is futile to sell an album on CD with digital rights management (DRM) protection included when the same music is available in MP3 format online for free. As a result, certain retailers are choosing to forgo DRM and sell music straight up.

The latest chapter in this story is Wal-Mart’s decision to sell DRM-free music on its online music store. Associated Press reported this week that the retailers is offering DRM-free songs for 94 cents a pop.
Songs currently available include music by the Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Maroon 5. Wal-Mart plans to continue expanding its DRM-free music offerings.
Many independent labels sell albums without copyright protection in order to gain exposure and reach a younger audience. But major recording studios usually still insist on using DRM to protect music from being copied without payment.
In Europe, EMI Group PLC started a new trend when it began selling DRM-free songs to Apple (News - Alert), which turned around and sold those tunes for $1.29 per on its iTunes online store, AP said in its report. Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group soon began offering a catalog of DRM-free music as well, although in this case the test run excluded resale on iTunes.
Major online retailers based in the U.S., including (News - Alert), Best Buy and Rhapsody also offer DRM-free music, so it makes sense that Wal-Mart would jump on board as well. Wal-Mart will continue also offering songs in Microsoft’s (News - Alert) WMA format for 88 cents each.

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Raju Shanbhag is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

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