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Microsoft tools to copy-protect CDs and DVDs

Microsoft's latest copyright protection tools will enable recording companies to restrict the use of CDs and DVDs on personal computers.

Two major recording companies, Universal Music Group and EMI Group, as well as MPO International, a large independent CD maker, have adopted the new software.

Microsoft's Windows Media Data Session Toolkit allows media companies to add a protected "second session" to CDs and DVS for use on PCs. This second session includes the audio and video content in Microsoft's Windows Media format, plus rules for the use of that content.

For example, content owners can limit the number of times a user can play the content on a PC and restrict copying of audio and video or transferring of songs to a portable device. The protection is handled through Microsoft's Windows Media DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology.

Entire second session offerings could also be made available by recording companies for downloading via the Web.

Some audio CDs on the market already contain copy protection. However, this has led to opposition among users because some protection technologies cause PCs to freeze or make CDs unplayable in car stereos.

The Windows Media Data Session Toolkit is part of Microsoft's Windows Media 9 Series and rivals products from RealNetworks as well as technologies developed in-house by some recording companies and smaller companies.

Microsoft's product announcement comes a week after representatives of the recording and technology industries, including Microsoft and the Recording Industry Association of America, urged the US government to keep its hands off of the digital copyright protection issue.

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