Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, creators of the phenominally successful MP3 music format, has developed a content protection extension to MP3 – and it could end the controversy over file sharing.
The Light Weight Digital Rights Management (LWDRM) system is based on a principle which has been used in video and audio media for some time – and in fact is already built into Microsoft’s Window Media platform.
Users pay for an audio file and can use it as they wish, but if they want to transfer it to another device or give it away to someone else, they must download a certificate from a certification body. Because the file is signed with your identity, if several thousand copies of an MP3 you once bought are found on the internet, then they know whose door to knock on.
We really think that Fraunhofer are missing a trick here. Rather than just flagging who once owned the file, why not make it so that an unauthorised recipient must download and pay for a license before they can play the media? This is already implemented in various ways in Windows Media, and we’re a but baffled why the technique isn’t employed here.
The system was originally developed for MPEG4, but has adapted it for use with MP3. Fraunhofer say that LWDRM will allow users fair use of the media they have bought whilst protecting the artists’ and record labels’ investments.
To support adoption of the new system, Fraunhofer aim to launch their own online shop, which will be free to small labels.