Group forms to fight digital music piracy

New coalition, formed by Internet music companies such as Liquid Audio, will try to stave off the stealing.

Digital music software maker Liquid Audio Inc. will today announce a new organisation formed to fight music piracy, the Genuine Music Coalition, said officials. The coalition will push music that has been authenticated with a digital signature and watermark, so that the listener will know that the copy is not pirated.

"The idea is to build consumer awareness of the idea of what is genuine and what is pirated," said Rick Fleischmann, senior marketing director at Liquid Audio Inc. Liquid Audio is donating, royalty free, the watermarking technology used to put an indelible "stamp" in the 1s and 0s of digital music. "This is not a security system -- it's a system for authentication."

Coalition members will display a new "Genuine Music Mark" logo in every piece of legitimately-encoded content sold or freely-distributed on the Internet. Major Internet music companies including Web site MP3.com, software maker MusicMatch, Internet music seller GoodNoise Corp., MP3 player maker Diamond Multimedia Inc., independent record label Platinum Entertainment and music-store chain Tower Records, will take part.

Supported music formats include the widely used MP3 format, which has had no copy protection integrated with it until now, and Liquid Audio's LiquidTracks. Genuine Music-Marked MP3 files will be open and compatible with all existing MP3 players on the market as well as portable digital MP3 players such as Diamond Multimedia's Rio player and other upcoming players.

Noticeably absent from the coalition are the Big-5 record labels -- Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, BMG Entertainment, EMI Recorded Music and Universal Music Group -- which in December banded together with Liquid Audio and others to form the Secure Digital Music Initiative. "There will be a host of companies that are looking for secure music," said Fleischman. "Among those are the major labels."

Liquid Audio claims the goals of the newly formed Genuine Music Coalition are in line with the those of the SDMI.

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