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Universal Launches Broad DRM Free Experiment Without iTunes. Rhapsody Provides Details.

We've been hearing hints of this for months and now Its all over the press that Universal is about to launch a broad DRM free experiment that will not include iTunes.  We have some specifics from a Rhapsody spokesperson:

Rhapsody "Between August 21st and the end of January, Rhapsody is making a wide selection of music from UMG’s digital repertoire available for purchase in open MP3 format with no rights management restrictions, including albums and songs from many of the company’s top-selling artists, including 50 Cent, Amy Winehouse, The Pussycat Dolls, The Police and Johnny Cash among others."

Universal "DRM-free music from UMG will be available in Rhapsody for the same price as protected files—89 cents per song for Rhapsody subscribers and 99 cents for non-subscribers. These 256 kbps MP3 files are compatible with every portable digital music player on the market, including the recently-released iriver clix Rhapsody, the Sansa e200R player from SanDisk, and the iPod, among others."

"Rhapsody's DRM-free UMG tracks will be 256kps.  Our regular DRMed purchase downloads are 192kbs AAC.  Bitrate for the UMG taste may vary between the different participating services/retailers."

Other retailers expected to be included in the experiment are Amazon and Google. Napster's participation could not be confirmed.