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7digital to go completely DRM-free: MP3s from all major labels

Crave confidently expects 7digital to announce next week that it has acquired Sony BMG's catalogue of DRM-free music downloads

Crave confidently expects 7digital to announce next week that it has acquired the rights to sell Sony BMG's catalogue of DRM-free music downloads, making it the first UK download store to offer MP3 downloads from every major record label.

The store recently soft-launched DRM-free MP3 downloads from Universal, including albums from Amy Winehouse, U2, Guns N' Roses and The Cure.

7digital is holding a press event on 16 September, claiming it's "on the tip of a 100 per cent DRM-free MP3 catalogue," and that its forthcoming news is "the amalgamation of years' worth of hard work."

iTunes -- the largest download store in the UK -- only has one major label, EMI, behind its DRM-free offerings, so a full MP3 catalogue from 7digital will be a massive victory for the UK-based company.

The road may not be free of obstacles, however. Amazon's MP3 store has been a huge success in the US as a result of its DRM-free catalogues from all four major labels. We reported back in January that Amazon was aiming to bring its MP3 store to the UK this year.

If all four major labels have decided the time is right to go DRM-free in the UK, 7digital could see itself fighting Amazon's enormous brand awareness and household reach within the consumer marketplace.

That might not be much of a horror story in 7digital's eyes, however, since it casually told Crave earlier this year that not only was it happy to have Amazon moving its download store to the UK, but that it was itself planning on launching its DRM-free store in the US

Sure, it would say that, but we wish 7digital all the best. 2008 has been an epic year for download-centric paradigm shifts, seeing venture into the MP3 download market, as well as Tesco. And if nothing else, it highlights only further that DRM is on its last legs, and that 2008 is the year the music industry finally pulled its head out of the sand.

When contacted, a 7digital spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. -Nate Lanxon