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Napster-proof music

Geoff Gasior
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IBM is making some noise about a new digital music technology that’s supposedly the most advanced in the industry according to News.com. While this will of course be cracked within moments of its official release, it still has some interesting features.

The new version of IBM’s technology will add several features geared toward thwarting this kind of unauthorized distribution of music and pushing consumers toward paying for music they find online:

• Copyright owners, such as music companies or publishers, can limit use of a song or book after it’s been distributed once. Thus, sending a song through e-mail, or through Napster, could theoretically disable or limit use of the copy that the second person receives.

• Copyright owners could give songs or books different types of protection based on geographic region, much as the DVD industry does today.

• New plug-ins for RealNetworks’ RealJukebox and the MusicMatch Jukebox will allow direct sales and payment options for music protected with the EMMS technology.

Of course all the digital media standards in the world aren’t going to make a difference if you can get a decoder/encoder that will handle the current MP3 format. There’s still nothing to stop someone from buying, ripping, and encoding a CD in MP3. Unless these new standards offer incredible sound quality at a comparable size, there’s no reason to switch over. Sure it will work for digital distribution, if it isn’t cracked, but it’s not going to curtail MP3s created from CDs and the like.

Here’s some irony for you. ZDNet is reporting that MP3.com actually stands to turn a profit this year.

“We’ve wrapped up most of our legal problems and expect to move to profitability in 2001,” said Robertson, who founded MP3.com in 1997 and still owns some 35 percent of the company.

Bet that’ll shoot the stock right back up to $120 where it belongs… or not.

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