Sources confirm DRM-free iTunes and 3G downloads

Apple has struck deals with the Sony Music, Universal and Warner, enabling its iTunes Store to offer a catalogue of music free of copy-protection, from all the major record labels

Crave's sister site News.com is confidently reporting that Apple has struck deals with the Sony Music, Universal and Warner, enabling it's iTunes Store to offer a catalogue of music free of copy protection, from all the major record labels.

iTunes has for some time peddled DRM-free songs and videos from London-based EMI, along with a few independent labels. But it's had to sit back and watch sites such as Amazon MP3 and 7digital snag similar deals from all the other major labels, at least partly due to Apple's reluctance to offer flexible pricing options on its songs -- something the major labels sorely wanted.

But News.com's Greg Sandoval reports that Apple has finally inked the relevant deals to offer three tiers of flexible pricing -- one for older back-catalogue songs, one for "midline songs" (which Sandoval explains are "newer songs that aren't big hits"), and a top tier for currently popular hits.

It's not known if and when Apple will publicly confirm these deals, but with the Macworld keynote just hours away, we can't deny we're hoping for a confirmation today.

In other news, Sandoval also reports that iTunes downloads may soon become possible over 3G mobile phone networks, direct to the iPhone. Up until now, this was only available when the phone (or the iPod touch for that matter) was in range of a Wi-Fi connection.

That Apple hasn't been able to offer an entirely DRM-free catalogue up to now hasn't dented the dominance of iTunes in the music marketplace, however. It's still number one around the globe. But as more and more consumers wise up to the hideous restrictions DRM imposes on their purchases, an all-DRM-free iTunes can't come soon enough.

Keep your eyes peeled on Crave later today for reports from the MacWorld keynote, starting at 5pm.

 

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