Warner/BMG Team on Wireless App

Tina Reilly
GENEVA, Switzerland -- Two of the industry's largest music entities joined forces to launch a secure mobile Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology designed to ease some of the tensions between record labels, artists, and music fans.

Warner Music Group and Bertelsmann's BMG went public today with a DRM-based service that enables music fans to download songs onto a mobile phone and share that music in a server-controlled peer-to-peer format.

The new DRM technology, called the OMA DRM server, was developed by Oslo-based Beep Science AS, and is based on a standard developed by the Open Mobile Alliance.

OMA DRM was showcased for the first time at the ITU Telecom World 2003 trade fair in Geneva.

According to reports, OMA DRM functions as a controlled peer-to-peer wireless network. Mobile users can exchange music files via a multimedia messaging system with other mobile users using the same handset.

What makes OMA DRM win the endorsement of music giants like Warner and BMG is that music labels can collect royalties on each downloaded song from the OMA DRM server, which tracks all swapping activity among its users.

Warner and BMG are the first two major labels to step forward with the technology olive branch following years of contention between music makers and online consumers who have so far disagreed on a viable and legalized method for music downloads.

The new system, which is focused on wireless consumers, only operates on a Nokia 6220 handset, Warner and BMG reported. But over time, other handset and mobile developers will be able to license the technology, the companies said.

Fifty mobile phone operators across Europe have since deployed the new wireless application, Reuters reported. Those carriers include Vodafone and Swisscom.

Warner Music and BMG have not yet announced when the OMA DRM server will be available to U.S. carriers.