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iTunes finally goes DRM-free, iPhone gets 3G music downloads

Apple's iTunes Store went completely DRM-free today, after Apple struck deals with all four major record labels. And the iPhone can now download from iTunes over 3G. Took you long enough, guys!

As we previously reported, Apple announced today that its entire music library will be DRM-free by the spring! The UK iTunes Store has made the transition to the DRM-free format already, with songs costing either 59p, 79p or 99p, including work from Britney, Kings of Leon, 50 Cent and Take That. Albums vary in price, but the majority of chart albums have stuck to the £7.99 price point. 

Eighty per cent of the 10 million songs in the catalogue will be DRM-free from today, with the other 2 million transitioned over the coming few weeks, Apple bigwig Phil Schiller proclaimed. That's all four major labels finally free of copy protection in iTunes.

Existing DRMed tracks can be upgraded to the DRM-free versions, with a significantly higher quality of audio to boot, just like iTunes Plus currently offers for EMI's music. This costs 20p per track, 40p per music video, or whole albums can be upgraded for 25 per cent of the album's price.

With a new update for the iPhone, the entire music store is available over the mobile phone networks via 3G, as well as over Wi-Fi. Same catalogue, same price, no additional charges, all DRM-free at 256Kbps AAC.

Ben Drury, CEO of iTunes rival 7digital, commented within minutes of Apple's expected announcement, moaning that Apple's new DRM-free offerings "are still in the AAC file format regardless of whether  they are DRM-free. The AAC file format is only compatible with iPods/iPhones and a limited number of other devices."

A fair point, but the majority of people use iPods, and those that use Creative's Zen or Sony's Walkman lines, for example, will still be able to use iTunes since these popular players also support AAC.