High Watermarks in the Future of Music

With Sony BMG making the announcement last week that it will join Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and EMI in offering DRM-free music downloads, it seems that digital culture has just gotten a little free. But there’s more to the story, writes David Kravets. While the downloads will be free of the kind of restrictions that users find frustrating, like restricted copying that impedes back-ups and sharing, Sony, Universal and Microsoft are experimenting with using watermarks on each file to earmark them in the case that they show up on illegal peer-to-peer networks.

Privacy and consumer advocates have been assured that the watermarks do not show any information about the individual who purchased the item, but instead will be used to provide solid evidence to Internet service providers that copyrighted materials are being traded illegally. At the very least, we can all continue downloading Britney’s latest singles without fear of losing our indie-cred.

Read the whole story here.