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Apple Launches iTunes in Canada

After acknowleging on Wednesday that the company had missed the November target for the Canadian version of the iTunes Music Store, Apple Computer launched the service late Wednesday night. The iTMS Canada will be serving some 32 million potential customers, and brings the number of countries having access to the iTMS to14.

The company is charging CDN 99 cents for individual music tracks. It is not immediately known how large the Canadian music library is.

The launch did not meet Apple’s self-imposed deadline of opening the Canadian iTMS by the end of November. The company said in late October it would launch in Canada last month. Apple has been advertising on Canadian television networks for the past 10 days, wetting the appetites of those north of the American border who have been waiting for their own iTunes online store for over a year.

David Basskin, president of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA), which negotiated with Apple and the other on-line music players on behalf of copyright owners, told The Mac Observer the iTMS coming to Canada is a welcome addition.

“We’ve been looking forward to iTunes opening in Canada since the day it was announced,” Mr. Basskin said. “We think that giving people more and more opportunity to buy music from legitimate online providers is the best weapon against music piracy. Anything that grows the market is fine with us.”

Mr. Basskin told TMO his agency has completed an agreement with Apple over reproduction sales in Canada, but would not discuss financial details or the tone of the negotiations.

CMRRA represents the people who own many of the songs that will be sold on the iTMS in Canada, including music publishers. The agency also partners with the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada (SODRAC) and other foreign music catalogs. In total, both groups represent more than 85% of the music available in Canada.

Mr. Basskin said he does know initially how many Canadian artists will have their music sold on Apple’s iTMS. “Apple hasn’t told me what Canadian-produced music they will or will not sell,” he said.

Apple joins three other existing music services in Canada, but is the only service available to Macintosh owners. Archambault.ca, Napster.ca, and Puretracks.com have been operating in Canada for less than year. Their prices are generally around CDN$1.00 per track.

Archambault is primarily a Quebec-oriented service catering to French-speaking Canadians.

Napster charges CDN$1.19 for individual tracks and also offers a monthly subscription service for CDN$9.95. Apple has decided not to offer a subscription service, saying customers want to own their tracks and not rent them.

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