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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 17:17 GMT starts music downloads
iPod Shuffle's download site will compete with iTunes
Online retailer has launched a music download service offering unprotected songs from major record company EMI and independent labels.

The PlayDigital service will allow customers to download individual tracks and albums free from DRM (digital rights management) copy protection.

While DRM tracks can only be played on a limited number of MP3 players, there are no limits with unprotected songs.

Fellow online retailer Amazon has a similar DRM-free service in the US.

'Further deals'

Apple's iTunes, the market leader, also started selling DRM-free songs from EMI's back catalogue last year, under the banner iTunes Plus.

This now runs alongside the main iTunes service, which continues to encrypt songs with DRM. says tracks will be available from 65 pence and albums from 4.95, cheaper than iTunes.

The company added that it anticipated that deals would be brokered with other record labels in the next six months.

The music industry had relied on DRM to safeguard against illegal downloading, but labels are now offering tracks without the restrictions as they try to increase digital sales.

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