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Labels making specific demands in latest iTunes talks

Record labels negotiating the removal of copy protecting measures from tracks sold on the iTunes Store are each looking for Apple to agree to certain concessions, according to a new report.

Citing industry sources, HypeBot claims that Warner Music wants the iTunes operator to instate variable pricing at the track level, which would allow the record company to step outside the 'one price fits all' model and bill more than 99 cents for some of its hit singles.

For its part, Sony BMG is reportedly requesting a shift in relationship that would see its DRM-free tracks sold on iTunes through the same agency model it uses to sell tracks on Amazon, Rhapsody and other services. Under this model, iTunes would be relegated to the role of a delivering agent while the label acts as the seller.

"Sony BMG's concern is that competition will drive track prices lower and the agency model allows them to maintain complete control," the report says.

Meanwhile, Universal is said to be asking that Apple watermark each DRM-free track so that they could later be tied back to an individual's iTunes account should they turn up on file sharing networks. Other digital download stores are said to have agreed (or are close to agreeing) to the measure.

Rumors that the three major labels would join EMI in offering their catalogs unrestricted on iTunes have made the rounds in recent weeks. However, the most recent report from CNet suggests an announcement ahead of the new year would be unlikely.