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Sony to sell digital music via Amazon

From Bloomberg News

Sony BMG Music Entertainment plans to sell digital music without copyright protection through Amazon.com Inc., stepping up competition between the Internet retailer and Apple Inc.'s iTunes.

Sony BMG is the last of the four major record companies to sell music without piracy protection through Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer. Songs in the MP3 format from artists including Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Beyonce will be available later this month, the Seattle-based retailer said Thursday.

“Some people have resisted buying digital music because of the restrictions,” said Pete Baltaxe, director of digital music for Amazon.com. “I do believe we’re adding new buyers of digital music.”

Sony BMG’s announcement was its second this week that it would finally sell music without the digital rights management, or DRM, software that prevents illegal copying and distribution. On Monday, the company said it would start selling unprotected albums through cards purchased in stores that can be redeemed online.

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Sony BMG is the world’s second-largest music company.

The music industry is betting that rising digital sales will make up for the decline in compact discs. Digital album sales rose 53% last year while CD sales fell 19%, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

“The great thing about the MP3 format is you can play the music on any of the devices,” Baltaxe said.

Amazon.com is trying to expand in a business dominated by iTunes, the biggest seller of music downloads in the world. ITunes sells songs without copyright protection from only one major record company, EMI Group.

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Last month, Amazon.com added recordings from Warner Music Group Corp., the third-largest record company, to the MP3 service it began in September with EMI Group and Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company.

Amazon.com sells downloaded tracks for 89 cents or 99 cents each and most albums for $5.99 to $9.99. Most tracks on iTunes sell for 99 cents.

Amazon.com shares fell 96 cents to $84.26. Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., lost $1.38 to $178.02.


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