Billboard is beginning to question if digital rights management (DRM) technology is an effective tool for fighting piracy.
A report explains that migrating digital music sales to an unprotected format, such as MP3, may be the best possible strategy to ensure platform, device and service compatibility.
Billboard points to the numerous services now offering music in non-DRM formats, including the likes of eMusic, Wippit and, soon, Rough Trade.
While such services are only able to sell indie label content without DRM, they are clearly attracting market traction.
The report explains that while arguments against DRM have traditionally been the domain of left-of-centre activists, more senior music industry figures are beginning to consider their position.
Some say that DRM forces music lovers to invest in devices that use proprietary technology, making software companies richer but adding nothing to the music.
They also note that all DRM security can be broken in some way, questioning the value of these technologies.
"People who really want to steal music are going to steal it," one executive remarks. "You're just making it hard for people who want to do the right thing to get the music they legitimately purchased on the devices and services that they want," he adds.
Consumer dissatisfaction with legitimate DRM businesses helps the pirates stay in business, the report explains.