Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology has been added to MP3, according to one of the companies behind the ubiquitous audio encoding technology. French company
Thomson has added the ability to limit the number of times a song can be duplicated onto CDs and MP3 players in a new version of the popular music encoding standard.
Thomson is late to the game with technology that’s already been incorporated in competing standards. Apple, for example, features “FairPlay” DRM technology in music downloaded through its iTunes Music Store that limits the number of times songs can be burned to CDs and on how many machines the songs can be played. Competing services depend on DRM available through Microsoft’s Windows Media Player software. RealNetworks Inc. also offers its own DRM solution.
Although MP3 has plenty of name recognition and a storied history — it was first introduced back in 1993 by
Fraunhofer IIS — there will be technical hurdles to overcome as well, since songs encoded with the DRM technology won’t work on older players. While some players could conceivably be updated with new firmware to support the emerging DRM-protected MP3 standards, others might need to be replaced all together.
DRM-equipped MP3 players and services are expected to appear on the market this year.