Universal may soon be joining EMI and releasing its songs DRM-free to online music stores like Apple according to reports in the media.

Currently testing to see whether an offering is viable, an announcement is expected to come later in the year, although sources suggest that the company, whose artists include 50 cents, Amy Winehouse and Snow Patrol is worried that the move will open the floor gates to pirate copies circulating on the internet.

Earlier this month, Apple allowed its shoppers to buy DRM-free tracks for a premium of 20p on its online music store, however ran into criticism for encoding users name and account email details into each music file purchased so it can track those who share songs excessively.

Buying your music without digital rights management restrictions means that you, as an individual, are free to play the track you've purchased as many times as you like, and you can burn it or copy it to as many devices as you see fit. For personal use.

DRM-free does not mean copyright-free. Sticking your latest downloads on some dodgy P2P site is not what DRM-free tracks are all about.

If Universal does offer its tracks DRM-free it will be the second company to do so following Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ open letter to the music industry calling for DRM to be dropped from digital music.