Well Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs answered his critics when together with EMI chairman Eric Nicoli they announced that EMI will make available on iTunes all of its digital music available Digital Rights Management (DRM) free in a variety of bit rates up to CD-quality.
Jobs had recently issued an open letter calling for DRM-free music and argued that the only reason iTunes downloads are burdened with the scheme is because the major lables have forced it on Apple. This move with EMI, which will not be exclusive to iTunes is the first salvo in the battle against illegal downloading by eliminating one of the biggest complaints that consumers have about buying music legally. Keep in mind though that these tracks are premium priced but that will hopefully be a short term issue. eMusic on the other hand has always offered DRM-free downloads so it will be interesting to see how all this plays out over at iTunes and whether they will pose a threat to the indie-friendly music store.
Let the experiment begin!
UPDATED! There is a very interesting transcript of the press conference for the announcement over at AppleInsider which, amongst other things brings up the possiblity of DRM-free music from labels other than EMI by the end of the year.