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If iTunes et al solely deal with distributors/publishers, then they can pass all copyright concerns onto them - there's a vetted company/organization (which presumably must be a legally-formed entity).

As someone else pointed out, they don't want to become the "YouTube of Music" - but I suspect it's more because they want to avoid all of the copyright issues that come with such a mantle. No need to be sued or worry about DMCA so much etc.

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