More unrestricted, higher-quality music and music videos are on the way to the iTunes Store . Apple has told publishers of music and music videos currently available on iTunes that they will soon get the opportunity to sell their works without digital rights management (DRM) protection.

"Many of you have reached out to iTunes to find out how you can make your songs available higher-quality and DRM-free," Apple said in an email sent to its iTunes partners. "Starting next month, iTunes will begin offering higher-quality, DRM-free music and DRM-free music videos to all customers."

DRM-free music

The email implies that any publisher can sell DRM-free music and music videos on the iTunes Store. Apple's statement is timely as DRM is becoming more of an issue for the music industry.

The music industry looks certain "to cave in the next six months" on the issue of DRM, according to Ty Roberts, CEO of CD database Gracenote . However he believes that the removal of DRM will only apply to downloads - not physical media such as CDs.

He also told ArsTechnica that the removal of DRM wasn't good for the industry in the long term as its removal would serve to lower the perceived value of media content.

Apple/EMI deal

EMI said it was going to begin selling DRM-free downloads at a joint press conference with Apple at the beginning of April. Tracks will be available on the iTunes Store as 256kbps AAC downloads. They will cost 99p each - or 20p more than copy-protected tracks on the online store.