New Electronic Tag Identifies Legitimate Online Music Sales

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The recording industry yesterday launched a new identification system to keep an eye on and simplify the sales of music on the Internet as online piracy of songs continues to erode record company revenues.


Called the Global Release Identifier (GRid), the system is similar to the Universal Product Code bar code found on CDs or tapes sold in retail stores.


The electronic identifier will be able to track and identify what music has been created, assigned, licensed and distributed. It can recognize singles, album tracks, groups of tracks and multimedia releases that are distributed online. The International Federation of Phonographic Industry and the Recording Industry Association of America jointly developed the standard over two years.


However, GRid will not be able to keep tabs of songs that end up on file-trading sites like KaZaA, Morpheus and Grokster that are responsible for the rampant piracy of music online.


GRid can track songs that are sold through downloads or Web streams by record labels, distributors like portals and online retailers. Each track will be distributed with an individual GRid serial number. It will be reported back to rights societies and collection agencies for artists to be compensated -- just like a bar code.


Record companies, legitimate distributors and retailers who distribute audio content can use the system. A voluntary system, resellers will be charged an annual fee of $245 for issuing an identity tag to the songs sold online.


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