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Music DRM 'dead by next summer'

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Killing DRM is saving digital music, reckons British retailer 7Digital. The company says DRM-free music sales now outnumber sales of DRM-enumbered music by 4:1 , and credits EMI with the shift.

Removing the locks and keys also helps shift albums, with 70 per cent of MP3 sales by value being full albums.

A recent report prepared for the British music industry by Capgemini suggested that it was the "format shift" to single track sales, or "unbundling" the bundle of the album, that was the most responsible for revenue decline since 2004.

"It's MP3, absolutely," 7Digital MD Ben Drury told us. "People understand that MP3 works everywhere - that isn't true for AAC and certainly not for WMA."

Quality is also a factor, he said, with 320kbits/s bitrate files proving popular. Amazon and iTunes have used a higher, 256kbit/s bitrate since EMI unshackled the music.

"By next summer all four major labels will have removed DRM from MP3s," he predicted. ®

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