updated 01:10 am EST, Fri February 8, 2008
US DoJ inquiry, Universal
Universal's Total Music service is the subject of Federal inquiry after the US Justice Department sent a letter to the Universal Music Group requesting information about the planned service. Yahoo News reports that this follows a similar letter obtained by Sony BMG - neither label would comment, and letters sent to the Justice Department went unanswered.
Total Music is an idea that Universal has been entertaining for a while, after increased friction with Apple over the sharing of profits and the proprietary DRM format the company uses to protect tracks. Universal chief Doug Morris referred to this sales model as being ensnared by "golden handcuffs".
In May of last year, Apple launched iTunes Plus, a DRM-free catalogue of music featuring select artists from EMI's talent roster. Universal passed up Apple's service in favor of Amazon, RealNetworks, and several other established online music retailers, offering a selection of DRM-free content over a six month trial period.