Puretracks, a major Canadian online music seller, has just launched DRM-free music for some of its music titles. While the major label music remains locked behind Windows-based DRM, Puretracks is offering 50,000 titles in clean MP3 format. Participating labels include some of Canada's leading indie labels such as Nettwerk and Arts & Crafts, along with the Online Independent Distribution Alliance. While not the first – eMusic, Zunior also offer clean MP3s – the Puretracks move is noteworthy given that it was the major's first big digital music foray into Canada. To see the service now break with DRM to the extent it can, demonstrates yet again that it is a matter of when, not if, for the labels to drop DRM.
The move also raises two questions. First – why is Puretracks still blocking Mac users? I tried this morning to access the site and was completely blocked using Firefox and partially blocked with Safari. Presumably offering clean MP3 should allow the service to sell to anyone. Second, the move to clean MP3s brings to mind my colleague Jeremy deBeer's posting last November in which he noted that the online music tariff before the Copyright Board appears to include a mandatory DRM provision. Such a provision is obviously incompatible with the Puretracks DRM-free service.
Update: CBC reports on the ongoing discussion over Puretracks, Macs, and DRM.