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Apple signs licensing deal with EMI for iTunes cloud service

Music industry sources claim that Apple has signed a cloud-music licensing agreement with music label EMI and is "very near" to completing deals with Universal and Sony, according to a new report.

Apple appears to be putting the final pieces in place for the long-rumored cloud-based iTunes music service. CNet's Greg Sandoval reports that Apple's negotiations with Sony Music Group and Universal could wrap up as early as next week, according to music industry sources.

Last month, Sandoval reported that Apple and Warner Music Group had reached an agreement for an unannounced iTunes cloud service. A separate report suggested last month that Apple had already procured deals from at least two of the four major music labels.

Finalizing licensing deals appears to be the final step for Apple, as a recent report suggested that Apple had completed work on a cloud-based iTunes music streaming service. Sandoval's industry sources have said that Apple's cloud solution is expected to be vastly superior to competing services from Google and Amazon.

Both Google and Amazon decided to launch their "digital locker" music services without renegotiating licenses with the labels. As such, Google's service is unable to sell music and Amazon faces a potential backlash from rights holders.

Mounting evidence suggests that Apple will use the name 'iCloud' for the new service, though AppleInsider has heard that iCloud will be more than just music. Sources said the new service will also serve as a revamp of the company's existing MobileMe service, allowing storage of contacts, calendars, photos and video.

According to one report, Apple purchased the iCloud.com domain for an estimated $4.5 million from the Swedish company Xcerion.

iCloud