Of course, some things never change. The labels want more money and Apple wants to dump digital rights management. What makes this year’s negotiations more interesting than last year’s is that one label has already decided to go the non-DRM route, while the others insist copy-protection is needed to protect music sold online.

The label taking the non-DRM plunge is EMI, which announced earlier this year that iTunes would sell the label’s music as unprotected AAC files for 30 cents more than the online store’s standard 99 cents per track.

So far the other labels haven’t followed EMI’s lead, choosing instead to back DRM as a necessary element for online music sales.

But that doesn’t mean the labels aren’t keeping an eye on EMI and iTunes. It’s DRM that prevents all tracks from playing on all players. If EMI can increase sales by selling unprotected tracks on iTunes, the other labels are likely to follow. However, for the time being, the labels have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

“At this point, no one can ignore Apple or what Apple wants, given its position in the marketplace,” said Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg. “The fact that they were able to do this deal with EMI puts more pressure on some of the labels to follow suit.”

All Your Dreams Belong To Us

A viral video making the rounds depicts an imaginary (?) agency’s stranglehold over Hollywood’s creative community.

Called “The Wrath Of CAAA” the vid opens with a writer pitching a script to a movie studio: “He holsters his Glock. He picks up the duck. He kisses the girl. And he gets the f**k out of Dodge. The end.”

The movie execs love it and the writer thinks he has a deal.

But wait. There’s more.

After the writer leaves the office, a woman walks in and drops a couple of scripts on top of the writer’s masterpiece. Emblazoned across the cover pages of both scripts is the logo, “CAAA.”

Meanwhile, the writer is scootering home and speaking into his cell phone telling someone that he has a deal (“I shook the guy’s hand in the room. They called business affairs . . . “), only to be told by the person on the other end of the line that “they went in another direction.”

Unfortunately for the writer, his nightmare is only beginning.

While a blackbird perched on a telephone line ominously crows, “CAAA, CAAA,” the writer arrives at his girlfriend’s house only to be told, “We need to talk. It’s just not working for them.” Clearly shaken, the writer notices a business card on the table. A CAAA business card. Then a man in a suit walks by the doorway, saying, “It’s a lock. It’s a done deal. It’s gonna happen. You got to believe it.”

Life gets excruciatingly worse for the writer as he realizes that everything in his life, even his dreams, now belong to the CAAA agency. At one point in the film, in his best William Shatner / Captain Kirk imitation, the writer clenches his fists, looks up to the sky and screams, “CAAA! CAAA!”

Then there’s the writer’s encounter with his mother, who has replaced him with another son, saying that it’s “a package deal.”

The video, which first appeared on iFilm, has circulated on the Net for a couple of weeks and has even been the subject of an item in the Los Angeles Times. Of course, any similarity to the real-life entertainment agency known as CAA is clearly unintentional.

Or is it?