Technology & Science

Amazon to offer music tracks without digital locks

Amazon.com said Wednesday it plans to launch a digital music store later in 2007 that will feature music downloads free of copyright protection technology.

Amazon.com said Wednesday it plans to launch a digital music store later in 2007 that will feature music downloads free of copyright protection technology.

The online retail giant said it will offer millions of songs from over 12,000 record labels in the MP3 format and without controversial digital rights management (DRM) software.

DRM technology is meant to stop people from duplicating music or video and burning it to disc or uploading it to the internet. Consumers have complained about the limits the technology puts on the music they legally purchase, but software manufacturers and record companies have continued to use it.

But that insistence has waned in recent months, with Apple chief executive Steve Jobs publicly calling for record companies to remove the technology and Microsoft head Bill Gates admitting the technology is too complex for most consumers.

Amazon said customers will be able to play its copy-protection free music on virtually any device, including PCs, Macs, iPods, Zunes and Zens, and will also be able to burn songs to CDs for personal use.

"Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO.

Music company EMI Group — whose artists include Coldplay, Joss Stone and Norah Jones — has licensed its digital catalogue to Amazon.com, Bezos said.

It's the second such deal for EMI, which last month agreed to take the digital locks off songs it sells through the Apple Inc.'s iTunes store.

Under Apple's deal with EMI, songs without the copyright protection technology will sell for $1.29 US, a premium over the regular price of 99 cents a track.