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“This patent reflects our pioneering efforts to provide technology solutions for device manufacturers, giving them access to protected content.”
——Leon Rishniw, Liquid Audio
LIQUID’S NEW PATENT: CHA-CHING
Will Licensing Copy-Protection Tech Be Company’s Meal Ticket?
Liquid Audio has won a patent for its copy-protection technology for consumer devices. The patent is part of the company’s Secure Portable Player Platform (SP3), designed to allow playback under terms specified by rights-holders.

The company will now be able to license the technology to manufacturers who wish to add a digital-rights management component to their products. It’s a potential revenue life raft for the firm, which has long struggled to gain market traction with its model of paid, copy-protected downloads, advanced player software and digital distribution services.

Content owners have been pressing for legislation that enforces the use of DRM or other copy-controlling technology on new consumer-bound digital devices, including portable digital music players, digital TVs and PCs.

Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-NC) has even introduced a controversial bill, the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Act, to answer this call, but the proposed legislation has met furious resistance from consumers and manufacturers, among others (see story, 3/25).

While the bill is unlikely to pass in its present form and may be politically dead already, it may serve as an "incentive" for the brokering of a voluntary solution by the various interested parties. In any case, there’s likely to be a continued demand for this kind of technology, and Liquid will be only too happy to oblige with licenses.

Among the firms using SP3 are ARM, AIWA, Cirrus Logic, Hitachi, I-O Data, Mpuls3, Palm, Sanyo, TDK and Texas Instruments.

"Liquid Audio has always strived to build technology that respects the rights of content owners," asserted the company’s VP of Engineering, Leon Rishniw. "This patent reflects our pioneering efforts to provide technology solutions for device manufacturers, giving them access to protected content. Until some eight-year-old kid turns it into an MP3, at least."

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