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RealNetworks Releases RealAudio8 in Cooperation with Sony.

RealNetworks (www.realnetworks.com) announced the commercial availability of RealAudio 8 and a strategic marketing and licensing agreement with Sony. RealNetworks is licensing Sony's ATRAC3 audio compression technology for inclusion in Realsystem 8, and Open MG, Sony's copyright protection technology. For their part, Sony will be shipping its portable music devices and VAIO PCs with customized versions of the RealPlayer8 and RealJukebox 2 pre-installed beginning in 2001.

The Sony ATRAC3 codec will be the default codec for RealJukebox, allowing users to record and playback their personal CD collections using Sony's highest quality compressed digital format. The RealProducer will use the ATRAC3 codec when encoding at bitrates higher than 66/kps.

RealNetworks has announced that they will add support for Sony's OpenMG in the future; however, no specific plans were announced. OpenMG provides for secure distribution of music from content provider to PCs and portable music devices. Sony collaborated with IBM to create this copyright management technology, and OpenMG is interoperable with IBM's e-business solution for the sale and downloading of music - the Electronic Music Management System (EMMS). Depending on the future state of copyright law, this solution could be well-positioned in the market, given that Sony's ATRAC3 now has broad industry support from 21 licensees including the Sharp Corporation.

"We are thrilled that Sony has selected RealJukebox as the primary music software product for multiple Sony products, and excited to include Sony's ATRAC3 in RealSystem 8 for high quality recording and playback," said Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO, RealNetworks, Inc. "By teaming with one of the world's leading consumer electronics and technology companies, RealNetworks will continue providing the best and latest secure digital music solutions for consumers worldwide

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