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Major record labels pondering DRM-free downloads?

Darren Murph

Details are admittedly scant on this one, and we must remember that these disclosures are coming out of France, but nevertheless, word on the street is that "at least one of the four major record companies could move toward the sale of unrestricted digital files in the MP3 format within the coming months." Reportedly, executives of several anonymous technology companies that are meeting at Midem are pondering the move to unrestricted digital music downloads, which just years ago wasn't even a remote possibility. As expected, industry pressures are likely at the forefront here, as digital music sales, although 80-percent stronger than the year before, grew slower than they did in 2005 and failed to compensate for the decline in physical disc sales. Of course, we already knew that EMI Music gave (somewhat) of a green light to the idea, and VirginMega already has the groundwork laid for DRM-free MP3s to be loosed in France, but unrestricted, impartial major label music files flying around on US shores would certainly be a shift from days past. Granted, a few insiders are quite skeptical that these whispers will lead to actual results, and advise to not count on seeing DMR-free tunes for sale here anytime soon. Welcome to the "wait and see" game, folks.

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