Barclays Merchant Services (BMS) has launched CopyLock, a digital rights management system combined with a micropayment facility.
The UK bank says the service provides online retailers with a cost-effective one-stop shop under which digital products have guaranteed payment and copyright protection. The DRM technology and the micropayment systems are flexible and can be used separately.
CopyLock uses 'wrapping' technology to enable online retailers and product 'authors' such as artists and writers, to package and sell digital products and services online, with copyright protection. Barclays says the CopyLock process ensures that only the purchaser is able to use the product, so that it cannot be copied or transferred to anyone else.
Andy Vokes, head of CopyLock development at Barclays Merchant Services, says industries around the world have been searching for a reliable and cost-effective means of protecting copyright on the Internet. "While there are a number of DRM technologies being developed, these all need to be supported by a payment solution. CopyLock will change the way business is done online and because the service is flexible, we will be able to update the DRM technology as it evolves without having to restructure the basic service," he says.
CopyLock will initially be implemented by Music33, an online Web site launched by Factory Records creator Tony Wilson, which plans to charge users £0.33 to sample and purchase single tracks rather than an entire album of music.
According to Forrester Research, online music sales are set to capture some 20% of a £40 billion global market by 2005.
Internet publisher Online Originals is also planning to use CopyLock to publish a series of short stories from Frederick Forsyth at a cost of £1.99 per story.
Barclays foresees the application of the service by anyone wanting to prevent illegal downloading of copyrighted materials, ranging from games and business software through to books and Government publications.