launches iTunes-like download service. Songs are just 79 cents, maybe the cheapest yet, but come with more copy restrictions

By Gary Susman
Updated July 22, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Now, PC users can finally learn what Macintosh users have been raving about for the past couple of months: cheap, legal, song-by-song music downloads from a vast library of tunes. On Tuesday, online merchant launches what may become the Windows alternative to Apple’s popular iTunes Music Store. The prices at may be the cheapest yet, and its music library the largest, though its customers face more restrictions on copying the music for their personal use than Apple’s do.

At BuyMusic, songs start at 79 cents and albums for as little as $7.95, compared to 99 cents and $9.99 at iTunes. BuyMusic also boasts a pool of 300,000 tunes, about 100,000 more than Apple. Unlike Apple, however, did not get uniform licensing agreements from all the major labels. While iTunes users may copy a song to an unlimited number of CDs or transfer it to any number of iPod MP3 players, Buy users face varying restrictions from song to song on how often (if at all) a downloaded file can be transferred to a CD, another PC, or an MP3 player.

In a statement, Buy founder Scott Blum called Apple CEO Steve Jobs ”a visionary, but he’s on the wrong platform.” By year’s end, however, Apple is expected to introduce a PC version of the iTunes Music Store.