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EMI samples new digital security

The record label is working with a new kind of digital security from BayView Systems to launch pre-released songs over the Web.

In an effort to prevent unauthorized copying of music files, EMI Recorded Music said Tuesday it will begin using security from BayView Systems that offers a new twist on the burgeoning technology known as digital rights management.

Unlike competitors that use encryption or watermarking techniques to prevent copying, San Francisco-based BayView Systems has designed its Duolizer technology to essentially split music files in two. A large, main file, called the Flexible File, is stored on the listener's hard drive, while a smaller file, called the Secure Stream, is stored on a password-protected server, controlled by the content owner. Listeners enter the password to have the smaller file streamed and listen to the song.

The two files are combined while the song is played, but otherwise remain separate. The company said that the owner's rights are preserved because end-users never have a complete copy of the music, regardless of the number of times the file is shared.

"What content owners like record labels need to really exploit the benefits of digital distribution is not only security but also flexibility and reduction of costs," said BayView Systems CEO Ron Cadet. "The purpose of (the technology) is to give record labels the ability to release their music to their distribution partners with a new sense of control, so advanced copies don't end up on EBay and songs don't end up on Napster."

EMI said it will use the technology to prevent piracy of songs offered to the media and retail buyers in advance of scheduled commercial releases. Garth Brooks' new single "Beer Run" will include Bayview Systems' security technology in a pre-release to selected listeners next Monday, which will be distributed over the Web.

Unreleased songs have found their way on the Web in the past. Last year, a copy of the title track of Madonna's album, "Music," leaked onto the Net before its official release date. The unreleased song found its way into the music-swapping Napster community and onto a few MP3 Web sites.

The announcement is the latest move by record labels to secure music in an attempt to thwart copyright pirates. In June, EMI tapped music-software maker Roxio to co-develop new technology to enable customers to burn EMI music on CDs as a way to promote secure and legal music downloading for consumers.

"Protecting pre-release tracks from music pirates is very important to EMI and our artists," Jay Samit, senior vice president of new media at EMI Recorded Music, said in a statement. "BayView Systems technology makes it easy programmers to access new music without the risk of unwanted leaks."