EMI Music is to lift restrictions from some digital tracks sold via downloads.

The world's largest independent music company will make premium downloads available worldwide without digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.

DRM allows rights owners to protect their content and target piracy.

Apple's iTunes stores will sell the tracks for 99p and will continue to offer tracks with DRM for 79p.

EMI said this afternoon that the decision follows consumer demand for high fidelity digital music for use on home music systems, mobile phones and digital music players.

Eric Nicoli, chief executive of EMI Group, said that the deal would give consumers the "best possible" digital music experience.

"By providing DRM downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating many music fans," he added.

"We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher-quality tracks and listen to them on the device of their choice will boost sales of digital music."

Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, said that the decision is the "right step forward for The Music industry".

More stores beyond Apple are expected to sell DRM-free downloads within the next few weeks.

EMI maintains that protecting intellectual property of its artists is "as important as ever" and will continue "to fight piracy in all its forms".

Artists on the EMI label include The Beatles, Corinne Bailey Rae, Lily Allen, Queen and Radiohead.

02/04/2007 14:36:59