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January 6, 2009

Apple iTunes to add DRM-free music from Warner, Sony, and Universal

The long and rancorous negotiations between Apple and the major music labels are apparently over and Apple’s iTunes will be able to offer their music DRM-free, but it came at the expense of Apple’s long standing "one price for all" policy:

Apple has cut deals that will finally enable iTunes to offer songs free of copy protection software from the three largest music labels, according to two sources close to the negotiations. In exchange, Apple has agreed to become more flexible on pricing, the sources said.

The three largest labels are Warner Music, Sony BMG and Universal Music Group.

Under the terms of the deal, song prices will be broken down into three categories–older songs from the catalog, midline songs (newer songs that aren’t big hits), and current hits–said one of the sources. Apple has offered songs free of digital rights management protections from EMI for more than a year. But EMI accounts for less than 10 percent of music sold in the U.S.

Apple and the music labels have also apparently come to terms on over-the-air downloads, according to a source. That would allow iPhone owners to download songs to their mobile devices via cell networks and without the aid of Wi-Fi. Apple, which closed the deals last week, could announce the agreements as early as Tuesday at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

There is some questioning of whether the availability of DRM-free music makes any difference to consumers. While I agree that the average consumer probably doesn’t pay attention to DRM in the normal course of events, they get really cranky when for whatever reason their subscription lapses and all their tunes are unplayable.

From the same source, the rumored pricing for the tiers is $0.79, $0.99 and $1.29 per track. Yes, it would have better if they had gone lower at the low end.

Update: Apple did announce it at MacWorld and the prices are: $0.69, $0.99 and $1.29 per track.

Posted at 12:27 pm. Filed under Apple, Brands, Companies, Internet, iTunes, MP3 Player, Music downloads, Portable Audio, Sony, Universal Music Group, Warner Bros.

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July 15, 2008

Warner to cut prices on Blu-ray DVDs

Suzanne Ault at Video Business reports that Warner Home Video is planning some aggressive price cutting on Blu-ray Discs during the fourth quarter:

Starting early September and rolling through first-quarter 2009, Warner will offer a Blu-ray point-of-sale rebate program with which retailers will essentially be able to order participating catalog titles for around $11.

Even with a retail mark-up on the featured titles—including The Fugitive, Enter the Dragon, Clockwork Orange, The Shining, The Aviator, Road Warrior and Swordfish—the price tag to consumers should be significantly less than the titles’ current average of $20 to $25 retail price at outlets such as and Best Buy.

Additionally, Warner will offer rebates, although less extensive, for newer Blu-ray releases, including 300, The Departed, I Am Legend, Ocean’s 13 and We Are Marshall. This layer of the Blu-ray program also will run from early September to the first quarter, according to store sources.

The consumer price for these titles is likely to fall somewhere between $17 and $20. That would still represent a deal for shoppers, as titles such as 300 are now falling between $24 and $30 at outlets such as Amazon and Best Buy.

After Blu-ray won the high def DVD war, it has been plagued by the perception that both the players and the titles are priced exorbitantly. This ought to help a little although click through to see the complaints from retailers who think it might be a bad idea because "format is becoming devalued too quickly."

Posted at 12:20 pm. Filed under Blu-ray, Companies, Storage, Warner Bros.

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June 27, 2006

Warner Bros selling TV shows and movies via Guba

Greg Sandoval at ZDNet:

Warner Bros. Entertainment on Monday began selling full-length feature films and TV shows over the Internet via Guba, one of a legion of companies presenting amateur-videos on the Web.

Guba customers can rent a film for $1.79 per day or pay $9.99 to own an older title. Newer movies cost $19.99 (actually TV shows rent for $1.79 and movies for $1.99 a day – ed.). All the content is protected by Microsoft-developed digital rights management software, the companies said.

The agreement is the latest sign that at least some in Hollywood may be ready to deal with Internet sites that some in the movie business consider a threat. Warner Bros. last month announced that it had chosen file-sharing technology from BitTorrent to distribute films.

The difference is that the Guba content can be copied to DVDs:

Under the Guba-Warner Bros. agreement, people will be able to make a copy of a video onto a DVD, but, because of industry licensing agreements, it can only be played on the computer from which it was burned. Wuthrich said he hopes consumers will be able to watch the copied DVDs with a DVD player within a year or so.

while purchases from BitTorrent cannot be copied to DVDs at all.

For Guba, the partnership is a coup. Like most other competitors in the video-sharing space, Guba has seen its public profile eclipsed by the juggernaut, YouTube. Thomas McInerney, the Guba’s CEO, said he hopes the Warner Bros. partnership will help the company stand apart from rivals.

There is some interesting background on Guba by following the link, but the bigger story is studios embracing download services in the apparent hope that the widespread availability of legal content will cut down on piracy. It might even work.

Note that Warner Bros. did a separate deal with corporate cousin AOL for distributing old TV shows for free.

Update 8/23: This post was heavily revised.

Posted at 10:27 am. Filed under BitTorrent, Companies, Guba, Internet, Microsoft, Video Downloads, Warner Bros., YouTube

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