IBM, music companies to combat copyright piracy

IBM and five major record companies have announced that they will test a system designed to thwart music piracy while allowing distribution of full-length, CD-quality recordings via the Internet.

Pirated recordings made from music obtained on the Internet have been a source of concern for record companies. The system developed by IBM is based on an open architecture with a clearinghouse that authorises and processes transactions in a manner similar to the way banks authorise financial transactions online, IBM and the companies said. Downloaded music can be transferred to any recordable digital medium that complies with copy control policies used in the trial, they said.

The market trial, expected to begin next quarter and last for some six months, will let consumers buy and download music over their computers using a broadband, cable modem system. A 60-minute recording can be downloaded in under 10 minutes, the companies said. More than 2000 recordings will be available for download.

The trial will be conducted with about 1000 cable subscribers in San Diego. The test will at first take place over broadband cable modem, but will expand to include narrowband telephony.

The five recording companies participating in the trial are BMG, EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music and Warner Music.

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