Encryption software developed in New Zealand is to be used to battle at least one of the most talked about problems in the music industry – the provision of music over the Internet legally with payment going to the appropriate parties.
The parties include artists and other people and businesses involved in its production in the way they see as appropriate.
RPK Securemedia, based in Auckland, San Francisco and Boston, is partnering with Merinta, on a service to deliver streaming video and music on a pay-per-view/pay-per-listen basis or a subscription basis through Merinta's iBrow software and device - a laptop sized "Internet appliance" that is specifically intended for Internet communication.
RPK's SecureMedia software running in server and client adds strong encryption and "digital rights management" to RealNetworks RealServer and RealPlayer.
RPK’s encryption software, the Encrypytonite Engine, was developed in New Zealand, and research and development for the company’s products is still done here.
The partnership between RPK and Merinta the companies say, will integrate both technologies within a network and Internet appliance environment to enable secure delivery of digital content.
This combination will mean content owners can secure and track usage of their intellectual property on the Internet.
Streaming content is played as it arrives, and is not saved on the client machine. The present partnership is aimed specifically at streaming content, and thus does not affect the currently far greater problem of preventing theft of stored music.
But RPK is working on possible applications of its technology in partnership with others in this area, says Auckland-based general manager Paul Osborne.
It is possible that protected streaming content will be seen by music originators as a more secure method of delivery than allowing recorded copies of their music to be downloaded, Osborne says.
Since the compact MP3 format became available, there has been a storm around consumers providing MP3 music to one another free of charge. Some organised operations, like Napster, provide a marketplace in such music on the Internet.
Napster, with a specialised browser, enables music enthusiasts to contact others online at the same time and swap songs. While claiming that it supports copyright law, Napster says it has no control over the distribution of music in the possession of users.
No music actually resides on the Napster servers. Napster has been sued by artists and the Recording Industry Association of America.