Warner Set To Go DRM-Free In France

A day after the announcement of iTunes abandoning DRM with all the majors, Warner Music France unveiled its DRM-free offering with download stores FnacMusic and VirginMega.

The move is described as an "experimentation" until the end of 2009 and covers the major's local and international catalog in its entirety.

The development is linked with the Creation and Internet law currently in adoption process in France, which should include the obligation for record labels to eventually drop DRM.

In a statement, Warner praised the draft law as so far approved by the Senate. Its most prominent measure is a 'three-strike' scheme leading, ultimately, to cutting Internet access of those responsible for repeated illegal downloading infringements.

At the end of the year, the statement reads, Warner will consider following on with its DRM-free approach, depending on the fate of the draft law. It would at that point consider going DRM-free on all download platforms.

"We are delighted to start this experimentation with two historical partners in France," stated Warner Music France president Thierry Chassagne, "and we look forward to extending [it] with other partners very soon."

FnacMusic and VirginMega are the online arms of French leading bricks and mortar music retailers Fnac and Virgin Stores. According to French label body Snep, they respectively accounted for 17.2% and 19% of the online music download market in 2007, way behind iTunes (60.2%). Both already sell the catalog of EMI and a vast array of independent labels DRM-free.

In a press release issued today (Jan. 7), Fnac welcomed Warner's decision and announced they were expecting similar moves from Sony Music Entertainment and Universal by the end of Q1.

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