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MP3 Players

UK goes DRM-free: 7digital gets MP3s from all major labels

7digital has become the first European music download service to offer DRM-free MP3 music downloads from all major record labels, as of today.

As we predicted earlier this month, UK music download store 7digital has announced it has secured Sony BMG as the fourth and final major record label to give the site its catalogue in the MP3 format in the UK.

As of today, 7digital is the first store in Europe to offer a completely DRM-free catalogue from all the major labels, including the entire MP3 catalogues of Metallica, Bob Dylan and Queen, and is planning on expanding its offerings into North America in the last quarter of this year.

In addition, Sony BMG has allowed all previous purchases of its DRMed catalogue to be re-downloaded free of charge.

At the announcement this morning, a cheery 7digital CEO Ben Drury also announced the availability of a new set of APIs, enabling developers to engineer their own products that take advantage of, and sell, 7digital downloads through mediums such as Facebook and Myspace.

Consumers will also be able to use snippets of HTML to add 7digital widgets to their blog or social network, allowing them to promote, sell and profit from music by their favourite artists. They will receive 10 per cent of every sale.

The move is a massive victory for 7digital and its users, and a huge setback for both iTunes and the nightmare that is DRM. Interestingly, Drury said that 80 per cent of the site's customer support questions were related with the complications of DRM. No surprise there then.

Looking to the future, FLAC-format downloads have not been ruled out. The site previously offered Radiohead's album in FLAC, to the jubilations of Radiohead-loving audiophiles everywhere.

In related news, Tesco yesterday announced it had secured Warner Music Group's MP3 catalogue, Best Buy has bought Napster, and iTunes still only has one major label giving it DRM-free versions of its catalogue (EMI). And Amazon is set to launch its hugely successful US MP3-only music download store in the UK any day now.

Is iTunes doomed? Let us know what you think in the comments below. -Nate Lanxon