Devilish Details Emerge on Nokia, Universal Music Pact

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Nokia is seriously expanding its music content offering, but users may be disappointed by a number of restrictions.

The new initiative, called “Nokia Comes With Music,” was first disclosed Tuesday morning during a larger presentation in Amsterdam.  The first taker is Universal Music Group, which is offering access to its entire catalog to buyers of certain high-end Nokia devices.  Users will be able to download music from the Universal library, but most importantly, they will be allowed to keep downloads after a one-year trial subscription.

If that sounds too good to be true, the reason is that it is.  In an article published Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal added new details, and pointed to a number of restrictions.  As expected, the tracks themselves will be wrapped in DRM, though the Journal notes that users “won’t be able to make multiple copies,” though they can transfers tracks between the device and a PC.  But the experience excludes the transfer of songs to portable music players like the iPod,  and prohibits the burning of songs to CD-Rs or the sharing of content with friends – all freedoms allowed by MP3s.

For Nokia, the concept itself is part of a larger Ovi web-based content platform, one that also includes other forms of media and entertainment.  “Comes With Music” will also leverage a platform constructed by Loudeye, a company purchased by Nokia for $60 million in October of 2006.

Nokia is now seeking buy-in from other majors and independents.  The mobile manufacturer has brokered Ovi distribution pacts with European operators Telefónica and Vodafone, and pointed to a worldwide rollout by mid-2008.

Story by news analyst Alexandra Osorio.