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RealNetworks pushes copyright software

RealNetworks will introduce a new technology on Wednesday intended to encourage the legal use of copyrighted material on the Internet, according to press reports.

The new software is aimed at making it easier for copyright-protection systems to work with each other. The initiative has the support of AOL Time Warner Inc., IBM and Sony Corp., which plans to include the software in its PlayStation II video game module.

The RealNetworks technology - extensible media commerce language, or XMCL - is basically a blueprint that will define a common set of standards to permit movies, music and other copyright material delivered over the Internet.

The initiative intensifies the rivalry between RealNetworks and Microsoft Corp., which is backing a competing copyright-protection system. RealNetworks will also introduce its own copyright-protection software, pitting it against a similar Microsoft program.

. That commerce software, known in industry parlance as digital-rights-management software, is considered a critical element of emerging Internet services such as video-on-demand and music-downloading services.