Amazon has been eyeing the market for downloadable music for years, wondering how to jump in. The issue isn’t technology, it’s the business model, availability of content and music industry support.

There was an unconfirmed report yesterday that Amazon is talking to Apple about licensing Apple’s online music store. Apple’s store has been a surprising success, but it’s unlikely that Amazon would be interested until the tunes could be offered to Windows users as well as Mac users.

And there might be an interesting twist to that story. The music industry is watching Apple’s store like a hawk, in part to discover whether Apple can prevent the downloaded files from being traded freely. When people hacked into the iTunes program and began streaming music across the Internet to other iTunes users, Apple quickly jumped in to deplore the unfairness of it all and immediately patched the program to prevent the music sharing.

It’s not clear that Apple has the rights to offer its music store to Windows users. It might be a licensing issue, not a technical issue, that makes this a Mac-only service for now. One report said that only two labels had licensed Apple to offer music to Windows users. The other labels are holding back to see if Apple can keep the files under control – or perhaps to jump in with competing services. If true, that’s potentially a huge roadblock for Apple in its quest to take over the world of online music.

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