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@ MWC: EMI To Sell DRM-Free Mobile Music Through Jamba

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EMI has licensed Jamba to provide what the News Corp (NYSE: NWS). and Verisign-owned mobile entertainment outfit says is the label’s first DRM-free repertoire in Europe to cross both mobile and the PC, we’ve learned. Though tracks may not appear online for another couple of months, the deal was signed off late today. EMI is giving access to the copyright protection-free catalog it introduced almost a year ago now. Jamba Music will give customers MP3 files to the PC and the smaller, compressed AAC+ files to the mobile handset. Prices are not yet known.

Jamba Music is a music rental and purchase store, offered over both the desktop web and mobile, with synchronization of the music archive carried out over a data cable, Bluetooth or the net. It currently operates in Jamba’s native Germany though the outfit is keen to grow it through white-label deals with ISPs and in other countries this year. Previously, Jamba Music’s major-label repertoire had come in WMA format for PC but still AAC+ for mobile. Though Jamba claimed this deal is a European PC-and-mobile first for EMI, if you stretch it, you could say the iPhone/iTunes Store combination already offers DRM-free PC/mobile tunes.

Just as the labels have begun experimenting with DRM-free more generally, that notion is on some music industry lips in Barcelona. RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK) SVP Larry Moores told a session on the topic earlier today: “We’ve taken the dream and turned it in to a nightmare through DRM. Consumers expect their music to play everywhere. We’ll be offering DRM-free in some of our services this summer.” HP’s content, media and entertainment VP and CTO Brian Levy acknowledged DRM had posed serious problems but maintained artists had the right to earn money from protecting their wares.