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EMI and Apple ditch DRM

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Updated In a rumoured deal between Apple Inc and EMI, the Beatles could soon be available to download from iTunes free from copy protection limits.

EMI whetted Beatles' fans appetites yesterday with an invite sent out to sections of the media announcing an "exciting new digital offering".

Jobs has been loudly dissing DRM (digital rights management) for some time now and this possible EMI deal suggests another crowd-pleasing move away from copy protection limits.

Apple Inc had been involved in a bun fight with record label Apple Corp until February this year when the two fruity giants settled a long-running dispute over trademarks.

EMI has been the main distributor of the Fab Four's huge catalogue of music since the 1960s.

But elsewhere, industry gossip suggests that today's announcement has nothing to do with the Beatles at all and could even see Apple strengthening its position on DRM, coming out in favour of Microsoft's copy protection software.

There will also be a "special live performance" at today's much talked-up event and seeing as it's unlikely that we will see the two surviving members of the Beatles jamming with Jobs, it's a gig that may hold the key to what this "exiting new digital offering" from EMI is really about.

It's a lot of hot air and speculation at the moment but all will be revealed soon. We'll have more later... ®

Update

EMI and Apple have confirmed that the record company's catalogue will be available on iTunes unencumbered by DRM. More unexpectedly, for an extra 20 pence per track on the current 79 pence price in the UK, and 30 cents on the 99 cents US cost, there'll be the chance to download AAC tracks encoded at 256Kbps, twice the current rating of 128Kbps. Users with existing EMI libraries will be able to upgrade if they pay the extra.

The new DRM-free tunes will go live in May. No news yet on the Beatles.

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