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RealTime IT News

MP4 Hits Australian Net Waves

Internet service provider OzEmail's Net music channel Chaos Music Market (CMM) has released the first of 15 downloadable tracks using the Web's latest audio technology, the MP4 format.

The tracks that have been released to mark the MP4 launch include work by American musicians Public Enemy and David Crosby, and Australian performers The Whitlams, TISM, and James Morrison.

The files can be downloaded for free from the CMM site, and when played they display scrolling text messages, album cover art and a hyperlink to the product point of sale.

"This is the best sound quality available on the Internet and we are proud to be the first to bring it to Australians," said Sean Howard, OzEmail's chief executive officer. "[It is] a technology which will shape the future of the music business."

As well as providing the music industry with a new Internet audio format, MP4 may lend it some comfort. Unlike MP3, MP4 offers limited copyright protection to musicians, making it a more attractive technology to use for posting music on the Internet.

The program for creating MP3 files can be downloaded, meaning that anyone can create files from CDs and distribute them over the Internet. By contrast, only copyright holders will be given access to MP4 encoders to record music to the MP4 format. In the case of copyright infringement the files also contain digital signatures that may be used to trace their origin.

Developed by US firm Global Music, MP4 is a self-playing digital quality audio file of around 3 to 4MB. The song files do not require a specific player to be installed in order to run, but use Microsoft's Windows operating systems and currently can only be played on PCs.