Real gets real, dumps DRM (almost)


Rhapsody owner RealNetworks has launched its DRM-free MP3 store, a final acknowledgement that DRM alone was never going to make Windows-based platforms a viable environment for digital media.

Real, a company once described by Apple as a company which “adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod” clearly now hopes its five million strong catalogue offering of music in non-rights-restricted MP3 format (256k) will let it take a little market share, as the company’s Rhapsody music service remains a minnow in the media pond.

The move only relates to the a-la-carte download section of the store, and not the mainline subscription service. The updated Rhapsody follows a similar DRM-free move by Napster after months in which the majors paid close attention to similar experiments held in conjunction with Amazon, which itself extends its DRM-free service to Europe later this year.

Until now, legal digital music has suffered from severe limitations on where consumers could buy it and how they could use it,” said Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks. “‘Music Without Limits,’ fixes those problems and will make digital music easier and more valuable for consumers. Rhapsody is proud to be partnering with some of the most innovative companies of our time, including: iLike, Yahoo!, MTV Networks, and Verizon Wireless, to connect consumers with digital music wherever they are and however they want it.”

Visitors to the Rhapsody MP3 Store can listen to full-length songs instead of the 30-second samples found on other sites. Real’s done deals with MTV and Verizon to try to promote the service.


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