Talks between EMI and online music services, including iTunes, on releasing music free of digital rights restrictions have stalled — and it's all about the money.

EMI was approaching services offering to license tracks in MP3 format, with no limitation on consumer use of the content they own.

In order to protect itself from any rampant file-sharing which may result if tracks were made available in DRM-free formats, EMI was requesting a significant up-front payment from online services.

Bloomberg explains that Apple, Microsoft, RealNetworks, Yahoo, Amazon, and potentially others were unprepared to pay the fee requested, and came back with offers of up-front fees below the value EMI desired.

"It's a setback," independent media analyst Harold Vogel told Bloomberg. "That this industry fights every change tooth and nail is not helping reverse the tide."

Warner is attempting to acquire EMI at present, though EMI management are concerned such a deal would face regulatory hurdles. US-based Fortress Investment Group is also understood to be preparing to make offers for the company, according to The Sunday Telegraph.