Amazon.com Inc. said on Wednesday the company will launch a digital music store later in 2007 with millions of songs, free of copy protection technology that limits where consumers can play their music.

The Seattle-based company said music company EMI Group Plc, home to artists ranging from Coldplay to Norah Jones to Joss Stone to Pink Floyd, has licensed its digital catalog to Amazon, the second such deal in a month.

"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.

Digital Rights Management, or DRM, has been demanded by the music industry to contain piracy by preventing users from making multiple copies; but its critics say it restricts consumers and therefore hinders the growth of legal music uses.

Early last month, EMI said it would make its music available online without a key anti-piracy measure, becoming the first major music group to take the risk in a bid to grow digital sales.

With all music companies struggling from a drop in the sale of physical albums, EMI, announced its first deal with Apple Inc. and the iTunes online music store in April.

Warner Music Group Corp. has said it sees no logic to dropping DRM but is still testing music without it, while Vivendi's Universal Music has said it, too, is still testing tracks without DRM.

Amazon's copy-protection-free MP3s will allow customers to play their music on virtually any of their personal devices.

These include personal computers, Apple's Macintosh computers, Apple's iPod music players and Microsoft Corp.'s Zune music players -- and to burn songs to compact discs for personal use.

Watch for Billboard.biz updates through the day.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print