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The first person to receive a music file may be able to hear the whole track, but whoever downloads the secondhand copy may only be able to hear a snippet or listen to it for a time-defined length. Or a label may put the song on Napster for everyone to hear for a month, only to have the track time out the day the album goes on sale in stores.
IBM RELEASES ANTI-PIRACY APP
Will Make Swapped Music Absolutely Invulnerable To... D'OH!
Offering what it calls "Superdistribution," IBM unveiled augmentations to its Electronic Media Management System (EMMS) at Midem in Cannes, Frances. We weren't there, but we did hear about the announcement, thanks to a little something we like to call a "press release."

The distribution capability allows authorized peer-to-peer music and book swapping. [Emphasis ours.] The new features are designed to "address the music industry's immediate need for a solution to create e-commerce and a viable business model" around file swapping. Since the new EMMS will be available in the first quarter of this year, we'll assume that immediate means "within the next two months."

Anyway, the new features that address these immediate needs are a set of technologies that may or not be magic bullets for unauthorized digital distribution. One enhancement allows retailers/record companies to send songs to multiple recipients, meaning a track can be e-mailed to all of the people on a fan club email list.

The innovation that will likely get the attention of copyright holders, however, is the technology's alleged ability to define how digital tracks can be used. The first person to receive a music file may be able to hear the whole track, but whoever downloads the secondhand copy may only be able to hear a snippet or listen to it for a time-defined length. Or a label may put the song on Napster for everyone to hear for a month, only to have the track time out the day the album goes on sale in stores.

Additionally, EMMS includes plug-ins for MusicMatch and RealJukebox, allowing for direct sales and payment. The ability to limit content usage by geography is also part of the new EMMS, just like Playstation 2 and DVDs. Tough luck if you're trying to swap Japanese imports of that new Toto B-side.

These new protection systems apply only to music directly sold on the Internet—they won't be coded into CDs. But it does make digital distribution a bit more appealing to copy-panicked labels, since IBM's description uses words such as "intellectual property" and "authorized." Sony Japan already uses EMMS.

The new Superdistribution facets are an outgrowth of IBM's digital distribution trial, code-named The Madison Project, held last year in San Diego. That experiment included five record labels and 1,000 lucky customers who were given access to a giant music vault from which they could choose from albums or singles.

"IBM's planned introduction for superdistribution capabilites in EMMS is very timely, as the music industry is looking for ways to balance consumer desires for downloadable music within our need for a viable business model," said VP New Media BMGE Karl Slatoff. "I wish they'd had this before we sunk all that cash into Napster."

Also making a play in the making-cash-from-Napster mania is CantaMetrix, which says that its MusicDNA technology can track MP3s to enable record companies and rights holders to collect dough. Combining digital signal processing (DSP) and psychoacoustic modeling, CantaMetrix claims to have built a database focussing on songs' unique patterns of sound. The patterns constitute an individual song's profile in the MusicDNA database. A MusicDNA Analyzer could then be incorporated into a search engine or an audio software player.

Users could employ MusicDNA to filter out "Easter egg" tracks or make sure they were downloading the specific song they wanted. It also keeps track of each file swapped—good news for accountants.

Finally, the MusicDNA database can store all sorts of information, making it a potential promotional vehicle for labels and, according to the company, giving rights holders the option of providing varying degress of access to songs, though it's not quite as restrictive as IBM's EMMS.

CantaMetrix is in negotiations with copyright agencies. Did building the MusicDNA database constitute the same type of copyright infringement that My.MP3.com was found liable for?

Of course, as the movie industry has learned through DeCSS' ability to hack DVDs, no security measure is hack-proof. On the flip side, streaming services have a lot to gain from file-swapping becoming more cumbersome through security measures. One thing's for sure: The word "Napster" can instill piracy paranoia—and business for anti-piracy technology is still booming.

BLACKOUT TUESDAY: HOW THE MAJORS RESPONDED
(6/5a)
HARLESTON, HABTEMARIAM LAUNCH UMG TASK FORCE
(6/5a)
SONY MUSIC SETS UP $100M FUND
(6/5a)
10K OPENS FUND TO AID BLACK YOUTH
(6/5a)
BLACK MUSIC MONTH: THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
(6/5a)
WHAT NEXT?
The biz ponders action after some reflection.
GRAMMY SPECULATION
100% guaranteed to be somewhat accurate, probably.
BLACK MUSIC MONTH
...continues.
TRUMP'S IN THE BUNKER
Just to inspect it, though.
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