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EMI in talks to sell unprotected MP3s

Music company considers digital audio format

On the heels of Apple’s Steve Jobs asking that digital rights management software be removed from online music files, EMI disclosed that it is exploring the idea for all of its extensive catalog.

EMI, which owns Capitol Records, Virgin Records, Blue Note and other imprints, has had conversations with online retailers about selling its digital music catalog in the MP3 format without copy protection. The Wall Street Journal broke the story today. An MP3 can be easily copied and played on any device. Music purchased at Apple’s iTunes Store is cloaked in the DRM software called FairPlay that limits the playing of a song to an iPod. Any music purchased elsewhere that has DRM cannot be played on an iPod.

EMI is the first major to release singles as MP3s without DRM, recently offering tracks by Norah Jones, Lily Allen and Relient K.

The Journal reported that retailers have been asked to submit proposals by Thursday regarding advance payments they would offer in exchange for the right to sell EMI’s music as MP3s.

Wire stories contributed to this report.

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