Following Apple and EMIís recent agreement on DRM-Free music downloads for the iTunes store, the giant online retailer Amazon.com Inc. announced today it is planning to launch a digital music store later in 2007, offering songs from 12,000 music labels free of the controversial Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection.

"Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device," Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive, said in a statement.

Users will be able to play their music on virtually any device, including PCs, iPods, Zunes and Zens, as well as burn the songs on CDs for personal use.

Amazon has also signed a deal with EMI to offer songs from its digital catalog at a premium price Ė pricing details will be announced closer to the launch date Ė making this EMIís second such deal in a month. Amazon is the world's top online retailer of music on compact discs, hopefully in the music downloads arena, itíll be a worthy competitor to reigning iTunes store.