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U Music eyes InterTrust digital rights system

Biz consortium gets last word

Universal Music Group is expected to announce today that it has selected InterTrust Technologies’ MetaTrust as the digital rights management system it prefers for the digital distribution of the conglom’s music.

The nod, which follows months of interaction between UMG technology execs and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based InterTrust execs, gives the fledgling technology outfit a leg up in the race to find a format that protects artists’ copyrights and can securely download music to consumers’ personal computers or portable devices for the major music companies.

The technology will be presented to the Secure Digital Music Initiative, a consortium of record labels and technology companies organized to determine which formats are most viable for the digital delivery of music and which are most likely to find widespread consumer acceptance. The SDMI can give a thumbs-up to the technology or reject it.

UMG, which recently joined forces with BMG to tout its musical wares online through the latter’s extensive network of Web sites and through online retailer getmusic.com, hopes to have product out this year.

InterTrust was selected by UMG, insiders said, because the system offers several features currently not available on competing technologies, such as the ability to let consumers sample music before they download and pay for it.

It also provides digital rights management in a flexible way to test different business models to get consumers interested in downloading music.

It can also be upgraded to cover larger numbers of downloads as consumer interest grows.

The major labels will need to offer hundreds of thousands of downloads daily in order to make online sales profitable.

UMG will test Intertrust’s technology on a non-exclusive basis through the summer.