Apple Delivers iTunes Store Upgrade, Prepares DRM-Free Catalog

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Apple has now launched iTunes 7.2, an upgrade that will include DRM-free catalog from EMI.

The modified content was not available early Wednesday morning, though the new material will likely be loaded soon.  “The iTunes Store also offers songs without DRM protection, from participating record labels,” Apple explained in its product documentation.  The enhanced tracks are being positioned in the unprotected AAC format, and sold for the elevated, $1.29 price tag.  The DRM-free content is also being offered in a higher fidelity, specifically at 256kbps, part of a new a-la-carte sales experiment.

Apple is calling its unprotected offering “iTunes Plus,” and consumers can opt to purchase premium downloads exclusively.  “These DRM-free songs, called ‘iTunes Plus,’ have no usage restrictions and feature higher-quality encoding,” the company explained.  “The first time you buy an iTunes Plus song, you specify whether to make all future purchases iTunes Plus versions (when available). You can change this setting by accessing your account information on the iTunes Store.”  The launch follows a joint announcement involving Apple and EMI from London in May.

Story by news analyst Alexandra Osorio.