Sony BMG planning to drop DRM

Sony BMG will become the last of the “big four” music labels to offer its music catalog without digital rights management, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report claims that the company is finalizing its plans, and will begin DRM-free sales sometime in the first quarter, possibly in concert with a Super Bowl promotion involving Sony artist Justin Timberlake, Pepsi, and Amazon. The promotion will kick off Feb.

3 and will offer free distribution of 1 billion songs from all of the major labels through Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 store. In an open letter penned last February, Apple CEO Steve Jobs called on the labels to abandon DRM. Following the letter’s publishing, EMI began DRM-free sales through several services, including the newly-launched iTunes Plus, only to be followed into DRM-free sales by Universal Music Group, who in August revealed plans to sell DRM-free tracks from several online retailers while excluding iTunes.

In December, Warner Music Group made its catalog available through Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 service, while joining Universal in what appears to be a boycott of Apple’s own DRM-free iTunes Plus service. It is unclear whether Sony BMG plans to make its music available through iTunes Plus, or whether it will choose to join Warner and Universal by eschewing iTunes for the Amazon MP3 store.