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Amazon takes on Apple

The big news, of course, is that Amazon announced yesterday that it was going to start selling MP3s without DRM. It's big news, and yet...it isn't. Says the Wall Street Journal:

EMI Group PLC, the world's third-largest recorded-music company by sales (and the fourth-largest in the U.S. market) announced yesterday it would license its catalog to Amazon's DRM-free service. The three other major music companies haven't said publicly whether they expect to play ball with Amazon, but people close to all three companies said they don't expect to license content to Amazon in the near future. That means consumers shopping for downloads on Amazon will be able to buy tracks from EMI artists like Norah Jones and Coldplay, but are unlikely to be able to find music by most other major artists, including, for instance, each of the top-10 selling albums last week. Another complication: Apple's iTunes is moving toward offering music without copy protection, and also plans to release EMI's catalog in that format.

As always, Bezos has his eye so far on the future that today's plan doesn't seem so sensible. But in the inevitable loosening-up of copy-protection on digital media, maybe 5 years down the road or more, Bezos's vision of Amazon as a one-stop shop for consumables - regardless of their format - is a sound one.

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