Finally confirming months of swirling rumors, Amazon said today it will launch a digital music store later this year. But unlike the many stores already out there, this one has a twist: its songs won't have copy protection restrictions.
The songs will be in the MP3 format, which means that you can pretty much do anything with a tune, such as copy it to a disc or play it on your iPod or Zune player.
This kind of flexibility is downright terrifying to some in the music industry, who fear that the open format will lead to songs being pirated and shared with others who didn't pay for them. It's a good bet that the store will not have songs from every major music label, although EMI Music said today it will license its catalog.
Amazon isn't saying when the store will open or how much the songs will cost.
The news release.
Jupiter analyst David Card: "this is a big, big deal, and a critical entrant into the digital music space. Amazon knows how to sell music..."
Techcrunch: Amazon selling only DRM-free music sends a message that a leading retailer is willing to back consumers over big business and that a digital music business can be built and continued using only DRM-free products.
Engadget: A profitable showing from EMI's "experiment" may very well convince the other labels to accede to consumer demand and start joining the free music party too, meaning that this move by a player like Amazon is certainly nothing to sneeze at.