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EMI Australia launches MP3 store

EMI Australia has partnered with UK-based digital media company 7digital to launch a DRM-free music store.

(Credit: CNET.com.au)

EMI Australia has partnered with UK-based digital media company 7digital to launch a DRM-free music store.

The download service, known as Musichead MP3, offers songs and albums by artists signed to EMI and its subsidiary labels. Big names include Coldplay, Gorillaz, Radiohead, Lily Allen as well as local acts Silverchair, Crowded House and Angus & Julia Stone.

Tracks are in MP3 format with a bitrate of 320Kbps, making them compatible with all portable music players including iPods. They are priced at AU$1.69 — the same cost as songs in the iTunes Store, BigPond's music service and the newly launched Microsoft-Sanity offering, LoadIt.

Unlike protected WMA files, MP3s are not subject to Digital Rights Management (DRM), meaning there are no restrictions on how many times songs can be copied, transferred or played on other devices. However, Musichead MP3's FAQ warns that "purchasing music and then copying it to give to your friend (or anyone else) is illegal and this is breaking intellectual property law".

DRM-free music from EMI artists has been available in AAC format from Apple's iTunes Store since May 2007, but MP3 tracks are compatible with a wider range of music players.

MySpace last week entered the MP3 game with the launch of MySpace Music, which offers song streaming and downloads via Amazon MP3. Thus far it is only available to customers in the United States, but the company is "currently in talks with the music industry in the Australian market", according to a statement from MySpace Australia.