MP3 to get digital rights management

In the background of the growing popularity of online music stores such as iTunes Music Store and Napster looms a format war between AAC and WMA. Is there room for a third challenger? The most popular digital music format, MP3, is universally recognized by digital music players and accounts for the vast majority of music available on Kazaa and other P2P networks. Thomson, the company responsible for licensing the mp3 format, will begin offering a DRMed version of the codec. The DRMed version will use standard MP3 compression tech along with DRM which will be in-line with emerging standards. Current digital music players will for now be unable to play the protected MP3s, although firmware updates could change that.

Will these be the MP3 files that no one wants? WMA and AAC are already dominating the DRM music market and there seems to be little space for a third competitor. MP3 does have the brand recognition that WMA and AAC lack, but it is highly doubtful that online music retailers will jump ship on the more-established DRM codecs for the better-known MP3. DRMed MP3s could also lead to greater consumer confusion as customers download the files only to discover that they will not play on their iPods, Rios, or any other player. Look for WMA and AAC to continue waging a battle for supremacy while MP3 remains relegated to the niche it currently inhabits: consumers ripping their CD libraries for use on their PCs and digital music players.

Original text by Eric Bangeman


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