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Apple backed by DRM-free competitors

RealNetworks & eMusic support iTunes move

While EMI's Monday event announcing the coming availability of DRM-free digital music focused on the iTunes Store, that won't be the only online service to benefit from the record label's new policy.

EMI's entire DRM-free catalogue is fair game for all major online music stores and those stores are showing their support for the decision.

"[Monday's] announcement by EMI is an important step forward for the online music industry," said Rob Glaser, chairman and chief executive of RealNetworks, which operates the Rhapsody music service "This moves us closer than ever to the day when consumers will be able to buy their favourite music via Rhapsody and enjoy it on their iPod or any other music-playing device."

EMI will encode its DRM-free songs at a higher rate, making them more attractive to end-users. The songs will cost a bit more, though-- the iTunes Store, DRM-free songs will cost 99p, while tracks with the digital-rights management technology will cost 79p.

"We think this is great news for the music industry and a big win for customers," said David Pakman, eMusic president and chief executive. "Digital retailers will now have a product customers truly want to buy because it offers high quality and flexibility. Universal compatibility and experimentation with various business models and different price points will help the music industry to grow again."

Online music retailers are not the only organisations pledging support for EMI's decision to offer DRM-free music. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) offered its support for the company's efforts to offer interoperability.

"CEA applauds Apple and EMI Music for recognising what consumers really want out of their digital music experience; high-resolution recordings worthy of both home and on-the-go listening, along with the freedom to move music among devices," said Gary Shapiro, the CEA's president and chief executive. "This is the future of digital entertainment."

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