MusicNet, Pressplay Mark Advances In Download Music Rules

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Streaming/download service MusicNet is joining rival Pressplay in allowing authorized downloaded music to be burned to disc and transferred to secure music portables.

The change will debut with the next version of the company's product, which will be available through AmericaOnline by the end of the year and on RealNetwork's site early in 2003, a MusicNet spokeswoman said.

In another advance for MusicNet, Sony and Universal authorized the service to offer their music for the first time. With the announcement, music from all of the five biggest music companies will be available through MusicNet's service for streaming, downloads to a PC's hard drive, transfers to secure portable devices, and burning to a CD.

MusicNet is owned by AOL Time Warner, EMI Recorded Music, music company Zomba, Bertelsmann (owner of the BMG music company), and RealNetworks.

In another advance for downloaders, Warner Music agreed to offer its music through rival service Pressplay, which is owned by Sony and Universal. With Warner's announcement, all five of the largest music companies make their songs available through Pressplay, which earlier this year began offering burning and transfer options. All of the five largest music companies authorize burning and transfers through Pressplay, which also recently won approval from EMI for burning and transfers.

The Pressplay sites support transfers only to select portables that support Windows Media Audio's codec and the WMA digital-rights management (DRM) technology, although not all WMA-codec-compatible devices support the WMA DRM. Pressplay also supports devices based on Sony's ATRAC3 compression codec wrapped in the WMA DRM.

Ironically, MusicNet supports the RealOne player, which uses the ATRAC3 codec developed by Sony, co-owner of rival Pressplay. The only portable devices supporting ATRAC3 natively are from Sony, but MusicNet said its downloads are "theoretically" playable on the Sony devices.

MusicNet didn't say whether portable devices compatible with its codec and DRM would be introduced at CES in January.

Pressplay makes music available through such sites as Yahoo!, MSN, and MP3.com. Liquid Audio makes music available through bestbuy.com, Compact Disc World's clubcd.com, Face The Music's facethe.com, waterloosrecords.com, and Liquid's own site.

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