The last of the major four record companies is set to offer digital downloads on DRM-free mp3 format.
Sony BMG, the largest record company in the world, has announced that it will begin selling albums on mp3 format for the first time from 15 January. Albums will be available in a scheme called MusicPass, initially in the US only.
"The mp3 files delivered through MusicPass play on computers, as well as on all MP3 players, including iPods," said Thomas Hesse, president of Sony US, in a statement.
The decision means that all four of the major record labels have now moved away from strict copy protected digital downloads, which prevent users from making multiple copies or sharing songs with friends. EMI, Universal and Warner Music all began selling music on mp3 in 2007.
Apple began offering music as DRM-free mp3s in its iTunes music store in October 2007.
Dropping DRM has been seen by industry watchers as a move to boost flagging music sales. In 2007, album sales fell 15 percent in the US.