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A Digital Earful

April 26 Volume 3, Issue 7
Sponsored By: MediaFORM

Are you spending over 50 times more for data discs & digital media than you should? Find out with your FREE copy of The Hidden Costs of Data Distribution - A Self-Evaluation Guide. Depending on your organization's specific procedures, usage & infrastructure, you may literally spend over 50X the necessary amount on purchase of distributable data. This FREE guide, sponsored by MediaFORM, will help you determine the scope of this hidden expense in your organization.

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  1. DataPlay's Deal With BMG Bodes Well For New Format
  2. Key2 the Kingdom: Sony Offers Copy Protection For CD-R
  3. Napster to Fingerprint Music
  4. Plextor and Liquid Audio Team to Provide Secure Digital Music Solution
  5. KPM Music: Major Production Music Companies in Online Venture
  6. Liquid Audio Granted Patent for Watermark Technology
  7. European Union Approves Internet Copyright Directive
  8. TEAC Ships 16X CD-R/RW Drive
  9. TDK and ahead Announce Bundle
  10. 1Sony Releases Latest Network Walkman Player

DataPlay's Deal With BMG Bodes Well For New Format

Boulder, Colorado-based DataPlay, Inc. has recently signed a content deal with BMG Entertainment that will allow the music industry giant to make its new releases available on the company's new pre-recorded digital media–simply called the DataPlay disc. With the agreement, BMG joins other industry bigwigs like Universal Music Group and EMI in supporting the new format. This is strong support for a company that is only about three years old, as BMG alone boast approximately 200 labels, including RCA Music Group and Arista. It is not currently clear, however, what artists or how much of their catalog will be released.

The new media, which are about the size of a half-dollar, come in the form of single-sided 250MB and double-sided 500MB micro-optical discs. The discs support both user-recorded and pre-recorded content. A blank 500MB disc can hold up to 11 hours of MP3 music, 160 high-resolution still photos, or 2 hours of MPEG-4 video. The pre-recorded discs will feature DataPlay's ContentKey technology, which will serve as a promotional and ecommerce tool, and will also support multiple Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems that help to give content providers a modicum of control over copyrighted material.

For consumers, ContentKey will enable them to purchase other material by a particular artist by following embedded Web links found on the disc. It's not improbable to assume that one could activate brand new content many times from the same disc. This feature bodes well for record companies desperately searching for new ways to reach the Napster-enriched public.

DataPlay, Inc. is also more than ready to tap into the developing market for consumer portable MP3 and digital audio players as partners Toshiba Corporation and Samsung Electronics–not to mention a myriad of other companies that are following suit–have developed portable devices that use the discs. This technology has the ability to bring various forms of entertainment, such as music and electronic books, into digital devices such as cellular phones, PDAs, and cameras.

DataPlay's micro-optical engine is approximately the size of a matchbox and boasts a transfer rate of 1MB/sec–beating the transfer rate of a number of CD-R burners. The company claims that the engine is designed for easy integration into the next generation of consumer electronic devices.

Blank DataPlay discs will be sold under the Imation brand name in 1, 3, and 5 packs, and will retail for approximately $5 to $12 per disc, depending on size. It's currently unsure how much the major label releases will cost.

–Mark Earley

Key2 the Kingdom: Sony Offers Copy Protection For CD-R

With the increasing popularity of professional-quality CD-R-based production systems, as well as services that employ those systems for cost-efficient short-run and custom publishing, the need for copy protection schemes designed specifically for titles delivered on CD-R has grown considerably. Sony Disc Manufacturing (SDM) has developed technology to heed the call. SDM has recently announced that it has expanded its SecuROM optical disc copy protection system–which has previously been applied eclusively to pressed CDs–to include anti-piracy encryption for titles on CD-R discs.

The new Key2Data copy protection solution for CD-R works through the combination of a SecuROM-encrypted executable, secure SmartCard technology for safe user authentication, and an online Digital Rights Management scheme, which governs fast and convenient title unlocking via the Internet.

Key2Data Digital Rights Management gives developers and publishers not only time to define and control access rights via a Web interface, but also the ability to track a disc's usage. The following features can also be implemented using Key2Data: software expiry dates; try and buy; pay per usage; software-on-demand; and partial unlock of software on a disc.

"Key2Data for CD-R means developers no longer have to worry that an unprotected beta test or press preview disc will fall into the wrong hands," says Johannes Stegfellner, director SecuROM licensing. It can also be used for internal software version management. SecuROM uses the same tool for its CD-R solution as it does for the CD-ROM system: the SecuROM Online Encryption Toolkit. The Toolkit is needed to create encrypted executables and to complete in-house testing with a SecuROM keydisc. SecuROM supports 32-bit executables and 32-bit Macromedia Director files (versions 5.0 and higher) for Microsoft OS platforms Windows 95/98/NT/2000 and Windows ME. "A single mouse click completes encryption via the Internet in literally one minute," according to Stegfellner.

SecuROM copy protection for CD-ROM has been available since 1998 and Stegfellner says it is in use by hundreds of customers worldwide. Its DVD copy protection solution also recently became available on a limited basis. Key2Data copy protection for CD-R is available worldwide, though pricing for the technology had not been released at this writing.

(Sony Disc Manufacturing, 123 International Way, Springfield, Oregon, 97477-1047; 541/988-8000; Fax 541/988-8098; http://sdm.sony.com; http://www.securom.com)

–Debbie Galante Block

Napster to Fingerprint Music

Napster has licensed privately held Relatable's acoustic fingerprinting technology to help filter songs in compliance with an injunction. Relatable's technology identifies music based on the recordings themselves and analyzes the acoustical properties of a recording's waveform to identify it precisely, regardless of its origin. The recording industry sued the company in December 1999 for copyright infringement. Napster has recently come under fire for its inability to block trading of copyrighted songs completely following the issuance of a March 5 injunction. Music industry officials contend that many of the thousands of titles record labels have asked Napster to block remain available on the system and have called for Napster to filter its service by searching for songs with digital fingerprint technology to analyze the content of the MP3 files. Napster said it also hopes to incorporate the technology into its current file screening system and into a new membership service it hopes to launch this summer.


Plextor and Liquid Audio Team to Provide Secure Digital Music Solution

Plextor Corp. and Liquid Audio, Inc. have teamed up to provide CD-R/RW users with access to secure digital music to burn to CD. Plextor has selected Liquid Player Plus software to custom brand and bundle with its PlexWriter CD-R/RW drives. Plextor will also use the Liquid Store to facilitate the secure distribution and sale of audio content on the Plextor Web site. Liquid Player Plus software allows users to stream, download, purchase, and play back music files. Liquid Audio software incorporates CDDB music recognition and supports leading audio codecs and formats. Plextor believes the union will facilitate consumer's desire to burn custom CDs while providing the music industry with the security and flexibility it requires.

(Liquid Audio, Inc., 810 Winslow Street, Redwood City, CA 94063; 888/547-8430; http://www.liquidaudio.com. Plextor Corporation, 4255 Burton Drive, Santa Clara, CA 95054; 800/886-3935, 408/980-1838; Fax 408/986-1010; http://www.plextor.com)

KPM Music: Major Production Music Companies in Online Venture

The Music Finder Online service, which is being launched at NAB 2001, currently featuring the KPM Music library will soon include the Bruton music catalogue. Additional music libraries are to be added to the system during the course of the year. The service, currently operating as KPM Online (www.kpmmusiconline.com), allows registered users immediate access to hundreds of hours of broadcast-quality music files, providing clients from throughout the film and television industries with all their music requirements via the Internet. The service is based on the Music Finder Search System pioneered by KPM and software developers Enigma Interactive, and is available, via a password-protected Web site, to broadcasters, facility houses and production companies. No proprietary software is required to access the service. The search method allows users to be more creative when selecting music for their productions. By being able to switch a specific music search from one library to another and download the broadcast-quality music files from a single shared Web site, a user can harness the full potential of each music catalogue even when unfamiliar with the repertoire.

(Associated Production Music 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 820; Hollywood, CA 90028-9804; 323/461-3211; Fax 323/461-9102; http://www.apmmusic.com; Bruton Music, 10-11 St. Martin's Court, London England WC2N 4AL; +44 (0) 20 7497 4800; Fax: +44 (0) 20 7497 4801; http://www.zpm.co.uk. KPM Music Ltd., 129 Charing Cross Road, London England WC2H OEA; +44 (0) 20 7412 9111; Fax +44 (0) 20 7419 0061; http://www.kpm.com.uk)

Liquid Audio Granted Patent for Watermark Technology

Liquid Audio, Inc. has been awarded a patent (#6,209,094) for its technique of embedding watermark data in digital music files. The watermark technique is part of Liquid Audio's Digital Rights Management (DRM) solution and is designed to help content owners protect music for digital delivery without compromising audio quailty and consumer flexibility. Liquid Audio's patent covers a technique for embedding watermark data in an audio signal that is both robust–cannot be removed from the audio without destroying the music–and can't be heard by the listener.

(Liquid Audio, Inc., 810 Winslow Street, Redwood City, CA 94063; 888/547-8430; http://www.liquidaudio.com)

European Union Approves Internet Copyright Directive

The European Union's Council of Ministers approved a pan-European directive on Internet copyright rules that sets out to protect copyright holders while allowing private copying of some audio and video material. The directive is intended to control Internet piracy by giving copyright owners the right to limit the illegal downloading of digital audio and video files. It also provides for the use of encryption to block duplication of digital files. In an attempt to balance the rights of both copyright owners and users of copyrighted material, the EU directive also allows for private copying of such material for personal use. In February, the European Parliament voted in favor of the directive, which then went on to the government ministers for approval. The EU member states now have 18 months to ratify or reject the directive, the EU said. If the member states approve the copyright directive it will be transposed into national law.

TEAC Ships 16X CD-R/RW Drive

TEAC is now shipping its 16x10x40 CD-RW drive for PCs, the CD-W516E. The CD-W516E features 16X write, 10X rewrite, and 40X read speeds, and a maximum digital extraction rate of 32X. Additionally, the drive features an 80ms average access time. The drive also includes a 2MB data buffer. TEAC's CD-W516E is bundled with Roxio's Easy CD Creator 5, and is available at an MSRP of $279.

(TEAC America, Data Storage Division Headquarters, 7733 Telegraph Road, Montebello, CA 90640, USA; 323/726-0303; Fax 323/727-7672; http://www.teac.com)

TDK and ahead Announce Bundle

TDK Electronics Corporation and ahead software GmbH have announced that TDK's newest line of VeloCD CD recorders will bundle ahead's Nero 5.5. "Ultimately, bundling Nero means that we are able to provide greater value to our customers," says Bruce Youmans, executive director of marketing for TDK. "Nero can even control two of our VeloCD burners simultaneously, making it easy for corporate users to convert their desktop PCs into a flexible duplication station."

(TDK Electronics Corporation, 12 Harbor Park Drive, Port Washington, NY 11050; 516/625-0100; Fax 516/625-0100; http://www.tdk.com. Ahead Software GmbH, Im Stoeckmaedle 6, 76307 Karlsbad, Germany; +49-724-891-1801; Fax +49-724-891-1888; http://www.ahead.de)

Sony Releases Latest Network Walkman Player

This week, Sony released its latest digital music player in Japan. The NW-E8P, which is designed to clip around the ears, looks like a pair of seashells connected by a wire. The latest addition to Sony's Network Walkman line of players is based on its ATRAC3 (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding) compression system. Support for the MagicGate copy protection system is built into both the player and companion desktop software. It won't support MP3 or any other digital music format, which means audio has to be transferred to ATRAC3 before it can be loaded and played. With 64MB of memory, the NW-EAP holds 80 minutes of music in standard mode at 105kbps, 60 minutes in high-quality 132kbps, or 120 minutes in 66kbps low-quality mode, according to the specs. The headphones each weigh about 1.5 ounces and connect to a personal computer via Universal Serial Bus cable. Four alkaline batteries provide enough power for seven hours of use. Sony expects the headphones to retail for about $320.

(Sony Electronics, Inc., 3300 Zanker Road, San Jose, CA 95134; 408/955-5462; Fax 408/955-6822; http://www.sony.com)

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