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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 January 2006, 19:23 GMT
Digital music: Industry answers
Some of the top executives in the music industry have answered your questions about digital music.

The BBC News website asked for your queries and gripes about the way new technology is being used - and the eight sharpest, most frequent and most important questions were put to the virtual panel.

Click on each question to read the answers.

Given that every single digital rights management (DRM)-protected song on the music download networks is still very easily found on any file-sharing network, what has DRM achieved other than alienating legitimate, legal, paying customers? Andrew Livingston, London

  • John Kennedy, IFPI:

    Without DRM, the explosion in the availability of music via digital channels would not have been possible. The purpose of DRM is not to alienate music fans, it is actually to improve your access to music.

    There are now at least 10 ways in which you can legally enjoy music - the list includes: ringtone, master ringtone, phone download, phone stream, a-la-carte download, disc, subscription, online stream, UMD music for PlayStation, kiosk and video.

    Without DRM, these options simply wouldn't be possible.

  • Peter Jamieson, BPI:

    DRM is the technology which makes all kinds of exciting new ways of listening to music possible. Certainly portable music subscription services like HMV Digital and Napster To Go wouldn't exist without it.

  • Steve Knott, HMV:

    I'm not sure that's entirely the case, Andrew, and please remember that a lot of illegal content found on file-sharing networks may feature inferior audio or contain viruses. Either way, I still think that it's right for content owners to protect copyright and manage the distribution of any revenues owed via DRM.

    I agree that it may not always be perfect, and can understand frustrations among 'legitimate, legal, paying customers', but there is a need to have a system in place to manage this whole process.

  • Brad Duea, Napster president:

    At Napster, while our goal is to make any DRM invisible to the user. The DRM allows us to keep track of what songs are listened to so we can compensate the artists for their work and make sure they keep putting out great music.

    While we are trying to make sure Napster music works with as many devices as possible, others - like Apple - do not licence their DRM and are instead electing to create a hardware trap for consumers. Also, the restrictions associated with DRM technologies are sometimes the result of restrictions required by the labels.

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