updated 10:25 am EST, Mon January 7, 2008
Napster to switch to MP3s
Online music service Napster, which has for some time only sold tracks in a protected Windows Media Audio format, will soon begin selling music in the form of unprotected MP3s, according to Reuters. Starting in the second quarter of 2008, at least a portion of the files sold or offered via subscription will be unprotected, in what may perhaps be the most significant such announcement since Amazon's digital store launch. Napster claims to have some 750,000 subscribers, who make use of both plans and permanent downloads.
A number of music publishers have been slowly moving away from DRM safeguards, as customers have long complained that DRM prevents them from using the music players they want, or even backing up and transferring media for personal use. The largest holdouts at present are Yahoo and Apple, the latter of which is the biggest digital music vendor, but which sells much of its music in an exclusive AAC format. Even Apple, however, sells a number of DRM-free tracks through its iTunes Plus service.