Sony is to propose a copyright protection format that it believes will enable record companies to sell music online as well help combat piracy.
The music industry giant is expected to present its methods today to the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SMDI) which was formed to find a way of securely selling music on the Internet.
Sony's system is based around separate hardware which can record and encrypt the music. Chips within PCs and portable music players will limit the transmission of files. Only authorised devices would be able to playback tracks downloaded from the Internet.
The two devices would allow digital music to "be moved" rather than copied, while preventing unauthorised copying, playback and transmission, explained Sony.
Some of the copy protection technology could sit on Sony's removable "Memory Stick" flash memory cards, which are already used in devices such as digital cameras.
The Memory Sticks would simply store downloaded music and enable it to be moved from one device to another.
Sony believes the technologies are "near-term solutions" that could seriously challenge MP3, a method of compressing music files which has been criticised by the music industry because it claims it opens the doors to piracy.
The company is working on extending the technology to allow more flexible usage and a way of billing consumers for downloaded tracks. Supporters of MP3, however, believe that Sony's technology is still far to complex and very inflexible.
MP3 is favoured by Internet users because it is easy to use and does not require any extra investment in hardware.
Sony is expected to pitch the technology to those involved in IBM's Madison Project to enable consumers to download tracks from the Internet and burn them onto a recordable CD and played on a traditional hi-fi system.
Araki declined to say which companies Sony has been talking to, but confirmed Sony will pitch the specification to those involved in IBM's project. It has the backing of BMG, EMI, Sony Music, Universal Music, and Warner Music.
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