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DRM-free songs at Amazon May 16, 2007

Posted by John in Technology.
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Online book giant Amazon plans to launch a digital music store that will allow customers to download music without any copyright protection some time later this year, the BBC reports. Seattle-based Amazon now has licences to sell music from 12,000 record labels, including EMI Group’s digital catalogue, according to BBC.

This means that millions of songs will and can be sold without Digital Rights Management (DRM) software, allowing them to be played on any devices and burnt to CDs.

“Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device,” said Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, according to a news release adding that he´s excited to have EMI on board and thereby being able to offer MP3s from “amazing artists” like Coldplay, Norah Jones and Joss Stone.”

However this is not the first time DRM-free deal EMI strikes, as CNet News Dawn Kawamoto notes. Last month, EMI and Apple struck a similar deal with the computer maker’s iTunes store. “Apple is expected to offer the label’s DRM-free music beginning this month at $1.29 per song, versus DRM-protected music for 99 cents a song,” Kawamoto writes.

Also, last year Yahoo Music began to test the concept of DRM-free music.

This can all be viewed in the larger concept of intellectual property in the web 2.0 world. In recent days we’ve written posts on Microsofts claims that free software violates its patent,  on Viacoms lawsuit against Google and on the future landscape of online media. As we noted yesterday, the whole issue of intellectual property needs to be taken seriously – the question is where to solve it (in court, at congress or at the negociation-tabla).

Of course this is a big move for Amazon – taking up the competition with iTunes.

At Arstechnica Jacqui Cheng refers to the news as Amazon dropping a bomb. “With this move, Amazon is beating iTunes to the punch by offering an entirely DRM-free store to the public. However, aside from EMI, the other three major labels won’t be launching DRM-free tracks with Amazon just yet,” Cheng writes.

At Reality Check Peter O’Kelley offers a users perspective:  “I already buy almost all of my new CDs on Amazon.com, so if they’ve done their homework on this offering (e.g., if it doesn’t entail music fidelity/quality loss, includes the ability to easily copy purchased music to new PCs, and is competitively priced), I’ll be a customer,” he writes.

By John Furrier and Tina Magnergard Bjers

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