British music giant EMI has been talking with online retailers about selling its entire digital music catalogue in MP3 format without copy protection, according to reports in the US.
The MP3 format can be freely copied and played on virtually any device and would allow consumers to play music purchased from any online store on any digital music device.
Currently music bought at online stores use different versions of the anti- piracy technology, Digital Rights Management (DRM).
For example, music bought from Apple’s iTunes Store has Apple’s version of DRM and can only be played on its iPod players.
Digital Rights Management
At the same time, songs purchased from rival online stores that carry different DRM technology cannot be played on iPods.
The Wall Street Journal reported that EMI has asked retailers what size advance payments they would offer in exchange for the right to sell EMI’s music as MP3s.
The Journal added that EMI would then decide whether to forge ahead with the strategy based on the size of the offers.
When asked about the report, EMI spokeswoman Jeanne Meyer said: ‘We’re not commenting on speculation.’
EMI is the world’s third-largest music company by sales and home to acts ranging from The Beatles to the Beastie Boys.
But some of its performers – notably including The Beatles – do not yet sell their music in any digital form.
EMI has experimented with releasing singles from Norah Jones and Lily Allen in the DRM-free MP3 format in recent months.
Meyer said: ‘The results of those experiments were very positive, and the fan feedback has been very enthusiastic.’
Earlier this week, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs called on record labels to abandon their requirement for online music to use DRM, which is designed to limit unauthorised copying.
Jobs said such restrictions had done little to slow music piracy and eliminating them would open up the online music marketplace.
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