Digital Restrictions Management

This morning’s Observer column

DRM was in the news because of EMI’s unexpected announcement that, starting next month, it will sell its stuff on iTunes in two flavours: one is the standard, DRM-crippled variety; the other a premium version with higher audio quality and without DRM.

The announcement came as a bolt from the blue, though I suppose that if anyone had spotted Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, going through Heathrow they might have suspected that something big was afoot. Mr Jobs does not normally descend to earth for anything as mundane as another company’s press conferences. But there he was on the platform, alongside EMI’s chief executive, Eric Nicoli. Selling digital music DRM-free is the right step forward for the music industry, intoned Steve. EMI has been a great partner for iTunes and is once again leading the industry as the first major music company to offer its entire digital catalogue DRM-free…