Goodbye Digital Music DRM, Goodbye RIAA?, and Hello Music Watermarking

SONY BMG has moved beyond experimenting with non-DRM-protected music tracks and indicated that its entire catalog will be available as MP3s from Amazon by the end of the month. SONY BMG is the last of the "big four" music labels to offer MP3s via Amazon (the others are the EMI Group, the Universal Music Group, and the Warner Music Group). Napster has also announced that it will offer MP3s for sale this spring (its subscription service will still use DRM). It would appear that the DRM era for digital music is coming to a close.

Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate that the RIAA is endangered due to a potential withdrawal of funding from the EMI Group.

The decline of digital music DRM does not mean that the labels have given up the fight to stem the tide of illegal downloads. MP3s from Sony and Universal include "anonymous" watermarks that allow them to be traced as they move through the Internet to provide infringement data for music labels and to potentially allow filtering by ISPs.

Nor does the decline of digital music DRM mean that Hollywood will quickly follow, avoiding the mistakes of the music industry.

Read more about it at "DRM Is Dead, but Watermarks Rise from Its Ashes," "Napster to Sell DRM-Free Downloads," "Sony Joins Other Labels on Amazon MP3 Store," and "Under Pressure from EMI, RIAA Could Disappear."

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