Amazon and Wal-Mart push labels to ditch DRM

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EMI, Universal and a bunch of smaller labels have been selling DRM-free songs through various online stores for some time now, but Sony BMG and Warner Music may soon start releasing music through the unrestrictive MP3 format as well, if Amazon and Wal-Mart get their way.

Amazon is set to announce a promotional giveaway of one billion MP3s during next year’s Super Bowl. However, it is crucial that these songs are given away without DRM so that they can played back on any device, specially on the dominant iPod. While negotiations are said to be ongoing with Sony, it is not clear whether or not any deal will be reached.

Wal-Mart, for its part, has reportedly given an ultimatum to some of the largest record labels, including Warner Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment, demanding they make protection-free tracks available in 2008 “or else”. While Wal-Mart is far from being a major player in the digital music scene, many speculate that the retailer could leverage its whopping 22 percent share of all physical CD sales in the U.S. to get the labels to cave in. It looks like 2008 will be an interesting year for the fight against DRM.

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