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Company News: Amazon.com opens digital music store

Web retailer Amazon.com Inc. launched its much-anticipated digital music store Tuesday with nearly 2.3 million songs, all without copy-protection technology.

The store, Amazon MP3, lets shoppers buy and download individual songs or entire albums with a single click. The tracks can be copied to multiple computers, burned onto CDs and played on most types of PCs and portable devices, including Apple Inc.’s iPod and Microsoft Corp.’s Zune.

Songs cost 89 cents to 99 cents each and albums sell for $5.99 to $9.99.

To make buying several tracks or a whole album at once an easy, one-click process, Amazon developed the Amazon MP3 Downloader, a lightweight application that automatically sends purchased music to the buyer’s iTunes or Windows Media Player library. Customers who don’t want to install the software can still buy songs one at a time.

Major music labels Universal Music Group and EMI Music have signed on to sell their tracks on Amazon, as have thousands of independent labels. The company said several smaller labels are selling their music without copy protection for the first time on the Amazon store, including Rounder Records and Trojan Records.

Sprint Nextel Corp. has proposed paying $57.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming it robbed billions of dollars from shareholders when it combined two tracking stocks in early 2004.

Johnson County District Judge Kevin Moriarty has given the settlement preliminary approval and has scheduled a hearing in December to consider giving it final approval.

If approved, the payment would amount to 4.4 percent of $1.3 billion, the low end of estimated losses claimed by the plaintiffs.

Sprint Nextel would pay $10 million, while insurance would cover the remaining $47.5 million. The company continued to deny any wrongdoing, saying it wanted to avoid the costs of continuing to fight the lawsuits.

Clear Channel Communications Inc. shareholders approved on Tuesday a $19.5 billion buyout of the nation’s biggest radio station operator, more than 10 months after the deal was proposed.

The offer from a private equity group led by Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Bain Capital Partners LLC was first announced in November but was sweetened several times after some large shareholders signaled they would oppose earlier offers.


 

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