IBM is teaming up with the record industry's top five companies to test a new technology that would let people quickly record or play albums off the Internet while protecting the music industry from bootleggers.
BMG, EMI, Universal Music, Sony, and Warner Music announced Monday they will create an online music store with more than 2,000 albums to test IBM's digital music system.
The companies plan to recruit 1,000 people to start testing the technology in this spring. The trial, expected to last about six months, will initially include only computer users with high-speed cable modems. If successful, regular telephone modem access will eventually be added.
IBM's digital technology would allow people to order entire albums over the internet, and then either store and play them on their computer or record them onto compact discs. The music will contain encryption technology designed to foil online pirates.
At a news conference demonstration, an IBM executive downloaded an entire album in about three minutes and recorded it onto a CD in about ten.
"This trial. . .will help us to move very quickly toward addressing the critical objectives of responding to consumer demand for convenient access to quality recordings and ensuring copyright protection for our artists' music," said Kevin Conroy, BMG's senior vice president of worldwide marketing.
The test is the latest effort by music companies to come up with standards to protect their copyrights online. Each will use the trial to determine whether to use IBM's technology in their digital music offerings.
IBM is one of several high-tech companies that have pledged to help the music industry develop foolproof security standards. Others include AT&T, America Online, Microsoft, and Toshiba.
Record companies hope to have standards in place by the fall and be able to roll out broad online offerings by the 1999 holiday season.