DRM and mobile music sharing

If you've ever downloaded music files using your mobile phone, you'll know that the networks are pretty sharp when it comes to digital rights management (DRM).

Basically, unless the mobile music provider has been rather stoopid, it's not possible to share a music file with your pals, as that would be breaking copyright.

Now a Cardiff-based company called Ubiquity has released what it claims is the world's first multimedia music sharing application. And it's legal too...

The new application is billed as allowing punters with 2.5G and 3Gmobile phones to listen to music as if they were in the same room.

The application isn't available to mobile users directly. The company hopes to licence its software to mobile networks and third party companies, who will then offer a service to end users.

Ubiquity's service allows downloaders to download and play songs as many times as they like, but they will also be able to open an instant message (IM) or conferencing session with their pals and "send" them a copy of the music file in question.

The file never actually gets sent, of course. What is sent is a flag to the music file on the company's servers that allows a one-time play session. The use can then be offered the chance to download the file him or herself, usually at a discount.

The service is an interesting balance between a secure DRM-based mobile music service and viral marketing. The idea is quite simple, really - if a track is popular amongst a group of mobile phone users, then downloads will ensue...