updated 02:35 pm EDT, Mon April 23, 2007
Amazon DRM-Free Coming
Amazon is preparing to open its own online music service without copy protection, according to the Times. The British paper claims that Amazon has been speaking to all four major labels about offering songs in the unguarded MP3 format for release in May, placing the online retailer in direct competition with EMI music that will be available through Apple's iTunes at the same time.
The currently unnamed online store may be hard-pressed to release at the time with such broad support, says journalist Dan Sabbagh. Amazon may be forced to limit its sales of unprotected music to EMI's catalog as well as independents that support the idea, and has reportedly dropped early plans to link the service to an Amazon-branded music player meant to compete with the iPod.
If true, the Amazon direct download store would become only the second major online store to offer unprotected music compatible with both the iTunes jukebox and the iPod, following behind second-place eMusic as well as numerous smaller and usually label-specific shops such as Bleep. Amazon had already entered the online media business last year with the unveiling of its Unbox video store, which sells movies and TV shows in a DRM-laden Windows Media format.
The pricing and quality of songs through the upcoming music store wasn't revealed as part of the apparent information leak.