No, no Beatles deal but Monday 2 April may well be remembered as the day DRM finally started to get stripped away from mainstream music purchase online. The del between EMI and Apple means that for an additioal 20p per track, music buyers will be able to buy an open standard music file (AAC) without digital rights management and at a higher bitrate as well.

AAC is often misunderstood as Apple’s propritary format but it’s actually an open standard, it’s Apple Fairplay DRM that it wraps around iTunes tracks for iPod-only compatibility that’s the issue. iTunes will start offering EMI artists in the new format from next month and it means that the store will, in a limited way, be available for anyone with a digital music player including mobile phones.

Apple and iTunes are subsequently revamping its marketing plan to further emphasis the iTunes+iPod link to ensure that those all important hardware sales keep ramping along.

Will AAC now become a widely adopted standard? This development certainly gives it a shot in the arm but the technology everyone still thinks of as open is MP3 of course. Check out this Business Week article for more on the AAC as a standard line.

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