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Liquid Audio Hooks Up With Universal For Downloads

The availability of music-company-authorized downloads will spread now that Liquid Audio finalized a nonexclusive agreement with Universal to act as a digital music service provider.

Liquid already provides authorized music from EMI, Warner and Zomba for downloading through Web sites operated by Best Buy, Musicland, CDNow and others. Liquid Audio provides the music companies and Web sites with end-to-end, secure digital distribution services, including encoding, hosting and clearinghouse services.

The three music companies’ content is available in Windows Media Audio and in AAC wrapped in Liquid’s DRM technology. Liquid wouldn’t say which codec/DRM would be used for Universal music. Universal previously endorsed AAC wrapped in Intertrust’s DRM, but Universal partners said the company has abandoned that technology. Universal didn’t return calls.