EMI goes DRM-free

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EMI Music introduced a music file format with no digital rights management restrictions. This comes more than a month after Apple CEO Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to encourage music labels to adopt an MP3 file format without copyright protection.

The new MP3s, which have a higher sound quality with less compression, are available for 30 cents higher per song than the standard locked files on Apple's iTunes store.

"By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating to many music fans," said Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group, London.

The move to boost digital music sales. Apple will sell the new premium AAC files at $1.29 a song and the standard format at 99 cents. Complete albums will automatically be sold in the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price. Consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade for 30 cents per track.

EMI is the first major label to make DRM-free music files available to its entire catalog.

"Removing DRM will double or triple the size of the music download business," said Bob Kohn, CEO of Royalty Share, San Diego. "Removing DRM eliminates one of the greatest impediments to the growth of the digital download business."

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