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:
"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."
"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.