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Musical cell phones to hit the market next week

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Mar 31,2004
Three cell phone manufacturers made progress yesterday agreement with music associations on the introduction of cell handsets that can also play MP3 music files, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism yesterday. MP3 is a digital music standard that compresses files to a size easily transferred across the Internet. Music copyright upholders argue that such MP3-player handsets contribute to infringement of their copyrights; handset makers and mobile service carriers question why the music associations take issue with only mobile phones although MP3 players are already common as stand-alone personal music players. The ministry said that the Korean Association of Phonogram Producers and other music owners’ associations and Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom agreed to incorporate a yet-undecided form of anti-piracy protections, called digital rights management, into their handsets. That would ensure, in theory at least, that only legitimate, paid-for MP3 files would be playable on the handsets. But there were several unanswered questions: for example, it was not clear whether handset owners would be able to convert music on CDs they own to MP3 files to play on the handsets. In addition, the agreement calls for allowing only lower-quality music to be played on the handsets beginning in two months’ time. Samsung Electronics said that it would begin selling MP3-equipped handsets next week after postponing their introduction because of the copyright dispute. LG Electronics said it was not happy with some of the terms for music downloads during the next two months and had not signed the agreement. LG TeleCom, without further explanation, said it agreed with the scheme but would not sign. “We are considering legal means against LG Electronics,” said Yun Seong-uk of the the Korean Association of Phonogram Producers. by Yum Tae-jung


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