According to Macworld UK, Universal Music has confirmed reports that it has altered its licensing deal with Apple's iTunes service. Instead, they will be showcasing their music in iTunes 'at will,' meaning that they can pull their music from Apple's download service any time they want.

It is widely known that record labels arenít happy with the base price of 99 cents for every song and the proprietary copy protection code that wonít allow iTunes music to play on mp3 players other than the iPod. Record labels hate it when they can't control every single aspect of music sales, and that's what's at stake here. By altering its licensing deal, Universal is hoping to reduce Apple's control of the online music download business.

Of all the record labels, perhaps Universal is the one in the best position to attempt such a move, considering they are the label behind one-in-three records released worldwide, on the other hand, Apple holds more than 70 percent market share of the rising music download business and is estimated to hand $200 million in profit to Universal each year, so abandoning the iTunes Store altogether is not an option.

The new deal could mean that Universal might offer some music from key artists exclusively through other online music services, something they couldn't do under the long-term contract with Apple.