Following Steve Job’s open letter about digital rights management last week, the New York Times reported that the EMI Group had been in talks with Apple, Microsoft, Real Networks, and Yahoo over a proposal to make its music available without DRM. Yahoo Music General Manager Dave Goldberg has now told USA Today that he expects most of Yahoo’s music catalog to be DRM-free by Christmas. Goldberg told the paper, “The labels understand that DRM has to go. It’s nothing but a tax on digital consumers. There’s good momentum behind DRM going away.” He predicts that sales would increase by 15-20% without DRM, which may help compensate for dwindling music CD sales.
EMI declined to comment when asked directly by USA Today about its plans for DRM-free music. However, according to a Forrester Research analyst quoted by the paper, EMI has every reason to ditch DRM. The move would “slow the loss of its sales . . . and get a lot of attention for its artists,” and besides, “anyone who wants to pirate music is already doing it.”