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Sony Japan to trial Internet music downloads

System based on MiniDisc, not PCs, apparently

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Sony Music Entertainment's Japanese wing is preparing to sell music via the Internet, according to reports in Japan's Asahi newspaper. The paper claims the company will offer a range of tracks from its own artists which could be downloaded for a fee, apparently straight on to MiniDisc. It's not clear, however, when the scheme, which was not confirmed by Sony, will be launched. It's certainly in interesting strategy. Sony developed MiniDisc and has been trying to persuade the music-buying public to embrace the recordable format for several years now. Producing a MiniDisc unit that could be hooked up to the Internet to download tracks could seem to be a neat way of leveraging interest in digitally distributed music to sell more MiniDisc players. However, to gain wider acceptance, the scheme really needs the support of other music labels -- few people would surely be keen on a technology that would be dedicated to just a couple of their favourite bands. And the wider range of titles available online are not offered in MiniDisc's native audio file format, unless it uses MPEG 1 Audio Layer 3 (aka MP3), something Sony, as a member of the Secure Digital Music Initiative, the music industry-led body charged with setting a specification for a universal music download format that also protects copyright as an alternative to MP3, would be too keen on mentioning. ®

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