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Apple iTunes ‘to dump DRM’ today

Digital audio sales to be revolutionised

Apple will today remove Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions from its iTunes music tracks, according to previously reliable sources.

If AppleInsider is to be believed Apple will soon offer unprotected iTunes Store music from all the major music labels - in line with the recently launched AmazonMP3 digital music service, and others such as 7Digital.

Apple iTunes logo

Against its usual practices, iTunes was the first to sell EMI content DRM free in April 2007, and sources suggest talks have been ongoing with the other major music labels Universal, Warner and Sony BMG.

"If the big four music companies would licence Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store," wrote Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a post called Thoughts on Music in February 2007.

Apple's boss called DRM-free music "clearly the best alternative for consumers" and one Apple "would embrace in a heartbeat".

Apple created its FairPlay DRM technology - built into QuickTime and used by the iPhone, iPod, iTunes, iTunes Store and the App Store - to protect songs or other forms of media purchased from the iTunes Store from piracy. FairPlay digitally encrypts AAC audio files and prevents users from playing these files on unauthorized computers.

Currently, a FairPlay-protected track may be copied to any number of iPods, but it will only play on up to five authorized computers simultaneously. An iTunes playlist containing a FairPlay-encrypted track can be copied to a CD only up to seven times before the playlist must be changed, although a track can be copied to a standard Audio CD any number of times.

The same site also believes Apple will quickly follow up the move with a promotional campaign called the "12 Days of iTunes" that will let shoppers in France, Germany and the UK download an "unlimited" amount of content just after Christmas.

Running from the December 26 through January 6, the first day of Macworld Expo in San Francisco, the campaign would offer big-name content in a similar way to its weekly free Single of the Week.

DRM-free iTunes to revolutionise music

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