Apple iTunes ditches DRM

Apple’s iTunes store has started selling songs without copy protection

Apple Australia's iTunes store is going DRM free with the launch of iTunes Plus, a new and better quality song format that frees users to play music on portable players other than Apple's iPod.

Techworld: How to get free iTunes music

For starters, iTunes Plus is launching with EMI's entire digital catalogue of recordings, including singles and albums from Coldplay, The Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra.

Until deals are struck with other recording companies, Apple will continue to sell the majority of its songs with DRM (digital rights management) restrictions, a technology used by publishers or copyright owners to control access to or usage of digital data or hardware.

At $2.19 each, the iTunes Plus songs cost 50 cents more than regular iTunes songs but allows customers to download tracks from EMI artists without limitations on the type of music player or number of computers that purchased songs can be played on. iTunes is also offering customers a simple, one-click option to easily upgrade their library of previously purchased EMI content to the iTunes Plus versions.

"Our customers are very excited about the freedom and amazing sound quality of iTunes Plus," said Apple CEO, Steve Jobs in a statement. "We expect more than half of the songs on iTunes will be offered in iTunes Plus versions by the end of this year."

The DRM-free tracks also feature a higher sound quality, 256 kbps AAC encoding as opposed to the 128 kbps encoding used on DRM tracks.

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