Currently, there is only one major record label (EMI) that offers DRM-free songs on the iTunes store, but that might be set to change. Rumor has it that Apple is in talks with Sony, Warner, and Universal to add DRM-free tracks from their catalogues to iTunes as well.
Users can presently purchase drm laden music from iTunes for 99 cents, but also have the option to purchase drm-free music from iTunes plus for $1.29. Though Apple is often criticized for drm, a big reason why it still exists is the fear that record labels have over piracy. The labels, already fearful of Apple’s power in the digital music realm, have tried to wrestle back some of that power by allowing competing online music stores such as Amazon to sell music with no DRM.
“Should Apple and the record labels ultimately forge a deal, the vast majority of songs purchased from iTunes would no longer be restricted for use solely on Apple’s handheld products such as the iPod and iPhone. It would also serve as a serious setback to rivals such as Amazon, who would then need to devise a new way to differentiate their service offerings from the already ubiquitous iTunes.
Amid public scrutiny over the limitations of copy protected songs, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs in February of 2007 called upon the “big four” music companies to drop their anti-piracy restrictions and allow digital music tracks to be sold openly on the Internet for any brand of digital music player.
Frustrated with inflexible pricing on the iTunes Store, record labels outside of EMI have refused to cooperate with the iPod maker. They’ve instead signed deals with many of the company’s rivals in an effort to gauge whether they can reduce Cupertino-based company’s influence on digital music sales.”
CNET has the full scoop over here.