Music label EMI Group is in talks to release a large portion of its music catalog for Web sales without technological protections against piracy, sources said on Thursday.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs called this week for record companies to drop anti-piracy measures. That would dramatically change the way digital music is sold over the Web, making it much easier for consumers to move songs between devices -- and between people. The question is whether sales would rise because of easier use or fall as piracy increased.
Citing a source familiar with the matter, Reuters reports that EMI was in talks to release a large amount of its music in an unprotected MP3 format to various online retailers.
Another industry source said EMI was seeking large advance payments from retailers in return for the right to sell its music in this format.
The second industry source also said EMI was in talks with Snocap, a company founded by Napster creator Shawn Fanning, to release music in MP3 format on News Corp's popular MySpace social networking site.
A spokeswoman for EMI noted that EMI has already been experimenting with MP3 formats and has released singles from popular stars like Norah Jones and Lily Allen in that format.