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Apple on Wednesday announced that it would expand its iTunes Plus catalogue of music without copyright protection technology and make it available at the same price as typical music files. The move comes weeks after Amazon.com also started to offer music files without protection and means that end users now do not need to pay extra for the ability to manipulate their files according to their wishes and.

“iTunes Plus has been incredibly popular with our customers and now we’re making it available at an even more affordable price. We’re adding over two million tracks from key independent labels in addition to EMI’s digital catalog and look forward to even more labels and artists making their music available on iTunes Plus,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes.

The digital rights management-free (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. As a result, not only end-users can transfer music files to any digital medial player they have, but they also get higher quality music files.

Earlier Apple’s DRM-free catalogue included only records from EMI and at $1.29 per track, whereas now the iTunes Plus portfolio is substantially broadened and songs now cost $0.99.

Currently Apple iTunes offers five million of tracks from different labels and musicians in total and about two million DRM-free music files. Amazon.com, which recently launched its beta online music store, currently has over 2 million songs from more than 180 000 artists represented by over 20 000 major and independent labels with all songs without copyright protection. Amazon offers music at $0.89 - $0.99 per record.

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