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Music labels launch mobile song-swapping technology

The technology works on the concept of a restricted P2P network in MMS enabled mobiles like the Nokia 6220.

business Updated: Oct 14, 2003 16:51 IST

Music giants Warner Music and Bertelsmann's BMG introduced on Monday a new anti-piracy technology enabling music fans to download songs onto a mobile phone and share the music with friends.

The new digital rights management (DRM) technology, called OMA DRM, was developed by three-year-old technology firm Beep Science AS of Oslo, the companies said in a statement.

The technology works on the concept of a restricted peer-to-peer network in which owners of mobile phones equipped with multimedia messaging, or MMS, can send and receive pictures and sound clips to and from other mobile phone users.

With OMA DRM, the music labels can collect revenues for each song downloaded off a central computer server and for those that are swapped between mobile phone users, said Beep Science chief executive Jan Rune Hetle.

The emergence of MMS phones enables media companies to sell a variety of short media clips from songs to condensed sports highlight reels.

The money-making potential is fraught with uncertainty though. Music executives, for one, are desperate to keep tight controls on the exchange of songs between mobile phones.

Unsanctioned peer-to-peer networks on the Internet, including Kazaa and Grokster, have created a booming black market for free music, which the industry blames for contributing to a three-year decline in recorded music sales.

Rune Hetle said BMG and Warner Music are the first two major music labels to trial the technology, which is being deployed by 50 mobile phone operators across Europe including Vodafone and Swisscom.

The technology works with Nokia's 6220 handset. "All the big handset makers are expected to follow suit, including Siemens and Samsung," said Rune Hetle.

OMA DRM was showcased for the first time on Monday at the ITU Telecom World 2003 trade fair in Geneva.

First Published: Oct 14, 2003 12:12 IST