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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Amazon to sell unprotected music
Amazon.com webpage
Amazon will sell digital downloads without DRM protection
Amazon has announced plans to launch a digital music store that will allow customers to download music without any digital copying protection.

Amazon has licences to sell music from 12,000 record labels, including EMI Group's digital catalogue.

Millions of songs will be sold without Digital Rights Management (DRM) software, allowing - for example - customers to burn their own CDs freely.

Amazon says it will launch the new store later this year.

"Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device," said Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon.

DRM has long been a controversial technology, both within the music industry and in the music-listening population at large.

EMI became the first major record label to offer to drop DRM from much of its catalogue earlier this year.

Apple, whose iTunes Music Store remains the biggest online seller of downloaded music, has since introduced an option to buy these tunes at a higher price without DRM protection.

Still, big record companies have historically backed DRM as a means of protecting their copyright and preventing piracy.

But the technology often imposes severe limits on which portable devices customers can use to listen to their music.

Most tunes from Apple's iTunes Music Store, for instance, are still only playable on the iPod, although they can play on Windows and Macintosh computers and can also be burnt onto a CD in order to transfer them to another kind of player.

Similarly, music locked with Microsoft's DRM system Windows Media can only be played on Windows PCs or Windows Media-compatible players, and can rarely be copied elsewhere.

Many consumers thus argue that DRM effectively limits the rights traditionally enjoyed by listeners to CDs or records.

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