Landmark Digital Rights Announcement To Be Made Today

A live webcast at 1pm (GMT) will likely announce an EMI/iTunes collaboration

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Digital Rights locks on MP3’s are likely to be taken off downloaded music in a landmark announcement this afternoon.

EMI have stated that they are about to offer “an exciting new digital offering” during a live webcast at 1pm. The news conference is to be held by Eric Nicoli, CEO for the EMI Group and Steve Jobs, the CEO and co-founder of Apple. There is also to be a ‘special live performance.’

Speculation in the media has been mounting since yesterday, when details of the conference were reported by The Wall Street Jounal, that EMI Records and Apple had possibly come to an agreement over The Beatles back catalogue, which until now has been illegal to download in any format.

However, the announcement is more likely to be that EMI have decided to start selling MP3’s without copy-protection, a highly debated idea, that would allow music fans to share music they have bought with other listeners.

Earlier this year, Jobs started the debate with the world’s four major record companies, including EMI, to allow songs to be bought online without copy-protection software, known as DRM – shirt hand for ‘digital rights management’. DRM software is designed to stop pirates copying music and distributing it on, but also makes enjoying music difficult for many consumers.

A rival record company executive told Reuters news angency that ridding music of DRM would be “problematic.”

Adding that he thinks: “EMI haven’t tested it enough so they don’t know what the market reaction is going to be to open MP3s. The issues are will MP3s help expand the market and how will it affect piracy? We just don’t know.”.

Major record companies have started to test the market with MP3 sales without anti-piracy software. EMI’s biggest market test was with Norah Jones’ recent single “Thinking About You” and Sony BMG did the same with Jessica Simpson’s “A Public Affair.”

Watch the webcast here at 1pm


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