This weekend, Microsoft announced new Digital Rights Management (DRM) software it would like to see adopted by the recording industry in lieu of copy-protected audio CDs, which are causing problems for music enthusiasts with PCs. The new software, called Windows Media Data Session Toolkit, will help the recording industry create audio CDs that circumvent illegal music copying by providing separate layers for normal audio playback and PC use. The audio layer would work like a normal audio CD in home and car audio players, but record companies could use the PC layer to determine whether music could be burned to mix CDs or used in other digital ways via a PC.
"\[Universal Music and EMI\] are very excited about this because it enables the industry to build a CD with their own protections built in," said David Fester, general manager, digital media entertainment for Microsoft during the Midem music conference in France. Universal and EMI are two of the largest record companies in the world.
Microsoft has invested heavily in DRM technologies, and the company has already seen widespread adoption of its DRM software in downloadable media content. Current audio CD copy protection schemes have been a disaster for record companies, because of incompatibilities with PCs, Macs, and even certain home and car stereos. If Microsoft's software is adopted by major recording companies, it could spur the first widespread adoption of DRM technology worldwide.