Could the king of proprietary technology soon become the most unlikely of liberals?
According to BusinessWeek, Sony / Bertelsmann co-venture Sony BMG is finalising plans to make some, if not all, of its online music downloads DRM-free.
Sony BGM is the last of the so-called 'Big Four' music labels still holding onto Digital Rights Managements after Warner Bros finally gave in inking a deal with Amazon at the end of last month. EMI was first off the blocks after its historical announcement in April, with Universal buckling in August.
How big a player is Sony BMG? Well, given that it lists AC/DC, Aerosmith, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Bob Dylan, Britney Spears, Bruce Springsteen, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Dido, Elvis Presley's back catalogue, Franz Ferdinand, George Michael, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Kylie, Michael Jackson, Oasis, Pearl Jam, Rod Stewart, Shakira, Tori Amos, Westlife and Whitney Houston amongst its stable of artists you get the idea...
Ironically, Sony BMG found itself in hot water in 2005 when it put extended copy protection on its music CDs, a system which made software to automatically install on users' computers when played and caused security holes which enabled viruses to break in. So giving in to the DRM-free movement marks a complete 180 for the label.
Official confirmation of the move is expected in the next few weeks, with Amazon's entirely DRM free download service mooted as its first official partner.
Personally, we don't care who it partners with - just get that DRM outta here...