Today Asia And Australia, Tomorrow The World!
After shocking the music industry with controversial moves in the U.S. and Europe, extremely active media mammoth Bertelsmann has now turned its sites on the Asian and Australian markets.

In an effort to fight illegal downloading of digital music through new partner Napster and other free services, Bertelsmann Entertainment unveiled initiatives aimed at encouraging record store chains throughout Asia to sell music online legitimately.

To that end, the German giant has signed an alliance with Mercurix, a subsidiary of Singapore Telecommunications, to create a clearinghouse for secure digital distribution to music portals, Internet Service Providers and retail chains, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Mercurix plans to provide retailers with the infrastructure to allow for a range of payment options by consumers, ranging from billing through ISPs to pre-paid debit cards, the report said.

Among Mercurix's first clients is Sanity, a record store chain with 260 shops, about one third of the Australian market. Bertelsmann is also exploring the option of setting up kiosks in record stores where consumers can download their own custom tracks into a mobile phone or personal digital assistant. And to speed up content delivery, the recording giant may set up CD duplication and print facilities in Japan and Australia, the Journal said.