iTunes finally goes DRM-free

At the Apple keynote at Macworld Expo 2009 in San Francisco Philip W. Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing for Apple, followed absent Apple boss Steve Jobs' tradition of announcing "one last thing".

Music fans will be pleased to note that was the revelation that iTunes, Apple's music download service, will finally catch up with the rest of the industry and go DRM-free.

Schiller revealed that with immediate effect, eight million iTunes tracks will be offered without restrictive digital rights management, with a further two million to be offered in what Apple calls "iTunes Plus" by 1 April.

Apple first went DRM-free with the launch of "iTunes Plus" in May 2007, but only with tracks from EMI. Since then rival competitors, such as Amazon, 7digital and Play.com, have offered a wider range of DRM-free music.

iTunes will now offer DRM-free tunes from all four major music labels - Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI, along with thousands of independent labels.

Apple will sell downloads with tiered pricing from April of either 69 cents, 99 cents or $1.29 per track. Apple says this pricing is "based on what the music labels charge Apple".

UK pricing tiers have been revealed as 59 pence, 79 pence and 99 pence, with most albums priced at £7.99.

And what about tracks customers have already bought? Apple says: "iTunes offers customers a simple, one-click option to easily upgrade their entire library of previously purchased songs to the higher quality DRM-free iTunes Plus format for just 30 cents per song or 30 percent of the album price".

In addition, Schiller announced that over the air 3G iTunes downloads would now be available for iPhone 3G owners.


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