Napster to Offer DRM-Free MP3s

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Long-struggling digital music service Napster has announced it will be embracing the DRM-free mindset, and plans to begin offering DRM-free digital music to its customers in MP3 format beginning in the second quarter of 2008. Until this point, Napster has focussed on selling music in Microsoft’s Windows Media format under the PlaysForSure platform; however, PlaysForSure has not offered a seamless experience across music players, doesn’t work with Apple’s market-leading iPod, and even Microsoft abandoned the PlaysForSure platform with its Zune portable media players. By offering DRM-free MP3 music, Napster hopes to re-invigorate its digital music business and offer customers a source for music that works on essentially any device capable of handling digital music.

"We projected a year ago that there would be a critical mass of support for MP3, and we’re pleased to see the music industry is beginning to support it," Napster CEO Chris Gorog told Reuters. "There’s little question that the broad adoption of MP3s will provide an uplift for the industry."

Napster hasn’t revealed pricing information for its planned MP3 offerings, nor detailed what music distributors will offer music in DRM-free format through the service. Although all major music labels have launched DRM-free digital music efforts, not all labels offer DRM-free music through to all their partners—for instance, Warner Music Group is currently offering DRM-free MP3s only through Amazon’s MP3 store, and Sony BMG is offering MP3 music only through the purchase of its own MusicPass cards.