Nordic Entertainment Adopts MusiCode Watermarking

On April 8, Nordic Entertainment Worldwide announced that it has adopted ARIS Technologies' MusiCode audio watermarking system. The Napa, California-based company operates the Downloadable Music Site, one of the Internet's most extensive music archives. MusiCode is an attempt to discourage piracy by embedding signals in recorded music, which can later be extracted for tracking the recordingÆs origin.

"Every piece of music sold online can contain recipient and transaction information specific to the sale, such as purchaser identity and the conditions of permitted use," said David E. Leibowitz, ARIS Technologies' vice chairman. "With this embedded information, MusiCode serves as a powerful deterrent to unlawful distribution and incriminates those who engage in this practice." MusiCode is claimed to survive successive generations of copying, whether analog or digital, regardless of the copies' quality.

Widely perceived as a technology that takes digitally recorded and distributed music several steps backward, watermarking is a serious issue in the high-end audio industry. Its persistence is so strong that it supposedly can be detected on a cassette tape playing on a boombox. Yet its effects are also claimed to be transparent to users. This obvious contradiction has yet to be explained.

Although free music downloads (whether of pirated products or the music of unsigned bands) have been available sporadically for approximately three years now, Nordic Entertainment was one of the first companies to successfully offer authorized music over the Internet. In business more than a year, Nordic offers material from many independent artists in several genres, as well the works of classic performers like Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong, and the Beach Boys.