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“With its many benefits for consumers and recording artists, Windows Media 9 Series has the potential to revolutionize the industry.”
——Larry Kenswil, UMG eLabs
MICROSOFT’S A “SESSION” PLAYER
Consumer-Friendly Content Management and Other News From the “Legit” Front
The cover of this month’s Wired sports a lurid Hindenburg graphic to illustrate its section on “The Fall of the Music Industry.” But while some tech geeks are prematurely dancing on the grave of the biz, others see slow but steady progress in the crucial arena of advancing legit online offerings.

Microsoft, always eager to position itself as a conduit between piracy-fearing content owners and swap-happy, gadget-mad consumers, is trumpeting its Windows Media 9 Series “Data Session Toolkit,” which makes use of a “second session” on CDs and DVDs.

What that means—for those of you without a geek-to-English phrasebook—is that labels and studios can use this utility to allow regular folks to play CDs and DVDs on their computers while simultaneously reducing the risk of said materials being subject to unauthorized distribution.

How, you ask? Well, the magical “second session” on the disc means that Windows Media software skips right over the unprotected content and plays a version in the WMA format, packaged with whatever restrictions on playback, copying or sharing the content owner has stipulated.

This might include the ability to transfer content to a portable device, or to make a personal backup copy. Also, the second session might be used to provide access to additional material (including liner notes, bonus tracks, and support for 5.1 mixes), which could be sold online.

This, of course, is a quantum leap from label-backed initiatives that render CDs unplayable on PCs—a counter-measure that didn’t stop a single pirate but outraged many a music buyer. Ultimately, the people thwarted by that tactic weren’t MP3-slinging punks but folks like, well, your mom.

Could persistent content-jackers circumvent this measure by duping the analog signal from the disc and ripping same to MP3? Sure they could. But your mom doesn’t have time for such nonsense.

And your mom always told you to listen to that nice Larry Kenswil, President of Universal Music Group’s eLabs, didn’t she?

“Universal Music Group continues to bring consumers more choice in how they enjoy music, and utilizing the second session format is a significant step,” Kenswil declared. “With its many benefits for consumers and recording artists, Windows Media 9 Series has the potential to revolutionize the industry.”

Let’s hear from another old friend of the family, EMI SVP of Digital Distribution Jay Samit: “Music fans want to enjoy their music anywhere, anytime. The new Windows Media Data Session Toolkit provides our artists with security while giving fans the flexibility to enjoy music on the PC, on CD or on DVD. It definitely takes the digital experience to the next level for consumers while expanding business opportunities for EMI and our artists.”

Did you hear that, you Wired nimrods? Revolutionize the industry. Expanding business opportunities. In your face!

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