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Microsoft offers protection to music industry

Anti-piracy tools in Windows Media 9

Microsoft today released new software aimed at protecting the music industry from the prevalent threat of CD and DVD piracy.

The Windows Media Data Session toolkit, a new component of Microsoft's Windows Media 9 series, enables media companies to protect content delivered to consumers by putting music on to a copy-controlled CD in multiple layers.

All DVDs and CDs created using the Data Session toolkit have several layers. The layer allocated to PC playback can be modified to prevent a user burning the songs to another disc without affecting their right to unlimited playback.

"Music fans want to enjoy their music anywhere, anytime. The Windows Media Data Session toolkit provides our artists with security while giving fans the flexibility to enjoy music on the PC, CD or on DVD," said Jay Samit, senior vice president of digital distribution for EMI recorded music.

Last year music sales fell globally by 9.2 percent, something which has been blamed on the rise in music downloads.

"The strong music support from UMG, EMI, MPO and others is a clear indication that the PC is recognised as a valuable medium for enjoying content that is CD- or DVD- based," said Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows Digital Media division at Microsoft.

"The Data Session toolkit enables PC-based playback of secure CDs and enables distributors to explore new revenue opportunities by creating greater synergy between physical recording formats and content available online," he added.

Unlike today's copy-protected CDs, Data Session discs will work across all platforms, from PCs to car stereos.

Microsoft has invested $500m (about £311m) in its digital rights management technologies in its bid to stop music piracy.

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