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Following a recent call of Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs to record companies concerning selling of music without copyright protection, EMI Music and Apple are about to start selling DRM-free (without digital rights management) music files through Apple’s iTunes store.

The DRM-free music files purchased from iTunes are encoded with AAC codec at 256Kb/s (kilobits per second) bitrate, which is twice higher compared to typical songs sold by iTunes that feature 128Kb/s AAC encoding. However, customers will have to pay some extra for improved quality and ability to listen to those files on non-Apple music players: if a typical song costs $0.99, then for a DRM-free one end-users will be charged $1.29.

iTunes will also offer customers a simple, one-click option to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free format for 30 cents a song. All EMI music videos will also be available in DRM-free format with no change in price.

“We are going to give iTunes customers a choice – the current versions of our songs for the same 99 cent price, or new DRM-free versions of the same songs with even higher audio quality and the security of interoperability for just 30 cents more,” said Steve Jobs, the head of Apple.

The open letter of Mr. Jobs came after several European countries complained that Apple forces its iPod customers to acquire music from iTunes music store and vice versa. But Mr. Jobs said that it was not Apple, who wanted to impose DRM, but record companies wish it to be imposed and Apple Computer would gladly sell music files DRM-free. Even though so far only EMI Music decided to drop copyright protection technology and begin to offer DRM-free music starting from May, the chief of Apple seems to be optimistic about the DRM-free future in the iTunes store.

“We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year,” Mr. Jobs promised.

The iTunes store features over five million songs, 350 television shows and over 400 movies.

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