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Vodafone Music Abandons DRM Protection

Mobile Network Operator Vodafone has announced that it will no longer use digital rights management solutions on its music tracks, at least when it comes to its pay as you go version.

The company will be switching from WMA to MP3 format in the process, which means that Vodafone will be joining the likes of Amazon, Play and Apple when it comes to ditching DRM.

Vodafone will be collaborating with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music - no Warner Music here - to distribute music on mobile phones and on PCs in MP3 format.

Customers who have purchased WMA tracks from Vodafone will be able to upgrade for free to MP3 and already over a million tracks are available including the likes of Britney Spears, Coldplay, Duffy, Lady Gaga and Lily Allen .

Apple in contrast charges customers who want to upgrade to the DRM-free music format. Interestingly, Vodafone has no plans to bring DRM-free goodness to its MusicStation service which allows unlimited downloads to the customers PC or Mobile for only £1.99 per week.

Vodafone internet services director Pieter Knook added that "By Vodafone pioneering DRM free on mobile and offering MP3s on PC, they will now have the freedom to download tracks from their favourite artists without any device restrictions allowing them to experience their music however they want it, wherever they are."

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Our Comments

It is not surprising that Vodafone failed to extend the scheme to MusicStation. Nokia with its Comes with Music offer also includes DRM solutions and users can keep the content even after the user leaves the network. DRM is almost dead now and it is a welcomed move spurred mainly by the fact that customers ARE the users.

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Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.