Apple ships DRM-free music

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Apple ships DRM-free music

Apple has started shipping songs without digital rights management (DRM) technology.

The music can be found in the new iTunes Plus store and is limited to songs offered by the EMI record label.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs however predicted that more labels would follow.

"We expect more than half of the songs on iTunes will be offered in iTunes Plus versions by the end of this year," Jobs said in a statement.

With the launch of iTunes Plus, Apple is making good on its to start offering the DRM-free tracks by May. The music is 25 to 30 per cent more expensive than songs with DRM at US$1.29 for US buyers and 99p in the UK. Users can upgrade previous iTunes purchases their existing song libraries at a fee of US$0.30 or 20p per song. 

In addition to dropping DRM, music in the iTunes Plus store also is encoded at a higher quality than the regular content. The premium songs feature high quality 256Kbps AAC encoding, comparing to 128Kbps for the plain kind.

AAC encoded files can be played on iPods as well as computers running the iTunes media player. But the lack of DRM will allow consumers to convert the file to different format such as the universally supported MP3.

Apple's iTunes is the first major online music store to ship music without any digital protections. Amazon has publicly stated that it plans to sell unprotected mp3 songs.
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