Amazon goes on the DRM-free offensive

— 9:26 AM on May 17, 2007

Apple boastfully announced that it would sell songs without digital rights management protection on its iTunes Store last month, and now Amazon is about to crash the DRM-free party, as well. Amazon says it plans to launch a digital music store that will stock "millions of songs" from 12,000 record labels in DRM-free MP3 format later this year. Naturally, one of those 12,000 record labels will be EMI, which announced in April that it would offer its entire music catalog (except for the Beatles) without DRM protection—thus sparking Apple's announcement. Amazon's choice to offer music in MP3 format might give it the upper hand in terms of interoperability, since Apple's DRM-free songs will be encoded in 256Kbps AAC format. However, Amazon doesn't say how much each track will cost or at what bit rate they will be encoded. DRM-free songs on the iTunes Store are set to cost $1.29 a pop.

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