Universal 'rebels' against Apple over iTunes

— 1:32 PM on July 2, 2007

Vivendi Universal—the biggest of the "big four" record labels—has announced it won't renew its iTunes contract with Apple, as CNet reports. The move doesn't mean Universal music will be pulled from iTunes, but Universal now intends to market its music to Apple "at will," allowing it to pull its songs on short notice if the two parties disagree on future terms like pricing. CNet comments that Universal is regaining a bit of leverage thanks to the move, although it believes that leverage could result in a "showdown" with Steve Jobs.

This announcement comes after a purported standoff during contract renewal negotiations, which started at the end of April. Dropping digital rights management protection was expected to be a hot topic during those negotiations, so Universal's move may not bode well for Apple CEO Steve Jobs' promise that half the music catalog on the iTunes Store would be DRM-free this year.

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