Microsoft's Copy Controls Go Mobile

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With an eye to capturing a larger share of the budding market for online music and movie distribution software, Microsoft is announcing a new version of its copyright protection software this week. The software will allow users to play rented content on portable devices, such as mobile phones, and networked devices within the home.

The new version of Microsoft's Windows Media software contains DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology, which is designed to protect, deliver, and play subscription-based digital music and video content on a wide range portable devices, including those in homes connected via wireless networks, the company says in a statement.

The technology, essentially, gives content purchased through subscription services a digital expiration date, even when the data is transferred from a PC. It allows users, for instance, to rent a song or video, download the content onto a portable player, and play it back until the rental expires.

Already On Board

Several well-known content providers have already agreed to use the technology, including Time Warner's American Online unit, Walt Disney, and Roxio's Napster.

With its new content protection software, Microsoft hopes to counter the growing popularity of Apple Computer's ITunes online music shop, which distributes music using its own copyright protection format.

The new Windows Media DRM technology will only work on devices specifically designed to support it. Porting kits offering ANSI C code and other tools for integrating DRM functionality into portable devices are available to chip and device manufacturers, according to Microsoft. Its Windows Media Rights Manager Software Development Kit offers support for adding DRM functionality to PCs, it says.

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