Napster Launches Legal but DRM-free Alternative to iTunes

Dennis Faas's picture

According to reports, Napster has now launched what it describes as the world's "largest and most comprehensive MP3 store at" Boasting a massive library and most importantly DRM-free music, the formerly illegal but now very law-abiding download site has an edge in its battle with online music retail goliath iTunes.

Though its prices aren't drastically different than its major rival (songs are 99 cents each and just under ten bucks for MP3 albums), almost the entire Napster library is free of that wonderfully-frustrating DRM. For those that haven't heard, DRM (Digital Rights Management) is the nasty term associated with former iTunes tunes that could only be installed on a limited number of computers. It made very little sense for consumers in a market once dominated by the free-love lifestyle of the compact disc. (Source:

The bulk of Napster's six million songs are now available at an impressive download quality of 256kbps. Downloaded tracks even come with high-res album art, a nice touch indeed. New visitors are free to browse Napster's catalog without feeling obligated to buy. Heck, there's even one of those fan-dangled on-demand, web-based streaming services that can be accessed from any connected computer without having to download software. (Source:

The former peer-to-peer problem child, which famously raised the ire of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and a number of other uppity artists, will be again facing stiff odds as it challenges iTunes. Major online retailer Amazon is struggling to compete, even though it already offers better quality downloads than Apple and DRM-free songs.

Still, iTunes should prove a less intimidating opponent than Lars, one would think.

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