Lala Preps Watermarked, Warner Music Group Files

Lala will soon deliver watermarked files from Warner Music Group, according to information disclosed to Digital Music News on Wednesday.

The news follows a splashy unveiling by the aggressive Palo Alto startup, one that includes ubiquitous content access and direct-to-iPod transfers of paid downloads.  During a phone discussion, Lala executive John Kuch outlined the format specifics, and discussed usage nuances.  Specifically, the Warner tracks will be watermarked AACs, meaning that personally identifiable information will be embedded into each file.  The choice of AAC offers greater fidelity than MP3, among other advantages, though both formats are compatible with the iPod.   As previously disclosed, the songs from Lala are specifically designed for direct iPod transfer after purchase, though fans can also burn the tracks to a CD, according to Kuch.  But those wanting to download directly to their hard drives will encounter difficulties.

Once obtained, the files can be shared, though all playback rights are surrendered when a recipient accesses the file.  If a recipient attempts playback of a song originally purchased by someone else, the file forces the ownership transfer after prompting the user.  “When you are sharing your music … you are giving it to someone,” Kuch explained.  The executive did not disclose timetables for a launch of the Warner catalog, though Kuch did underscore that direct-to-iPod capabilities are currently live for content already owned and uploaded into the Lala system.  Early testing by Digital Music News revealed some issues with that capability, though early-stage, beta glitches could be the culprit.  Other aspects of the Lala digital rollout performed solidly, including the mechanism that automatically recognizes an existing collection, and enables access to songs from any internet-connected computer