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Deal or no deal: EMI and Apple's DRM-free premium music?

EMI Group soon will sell digital music with better sound quality and no digital rights management restrictions, through Apple's iTunes Store.

The premium version of EMI-artist Adam Ant will cost you extra.

The world has been waiting for the Beatles to come to iTunes for a while, but if you were hoping that was the topic of today's press conference between EMI Group and Apple, sorry; there's still no Beatles on iTunes. But in May, EMI's entire music catalog will be available in premium DRM-free form. In case you're wondering, premium means higher quality music files--as well as a 30-cent price hike ($1.29 vs. $.99) per song--for the privilege of downloading music stripped of digital rights management.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggested that half of iTunes' music tracks will be available in both DRM-loaded and DRM-free form by the end of 2007. That's a good thing, but 30 cents extra still seems a little steep when you're competing with free pirated music. What do you think?

For a complete report on today's EMI/Apple deal, check out the full story by intrepid craver Caroline McCarthy.