Dial-a-song shop planned

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The Independent Online
A LONDON start-up company has developed an online "shop" which will let people buy and receive music, books and films in digital form over the telephone. It claims to be able to cut distribution costs to the extent that 10 songs, the contents of the average CD, would cost just pounds 6.

The "shop", designed by Cerberus Sound + Vision, will be launched later this year. It consists of two elements. The first is a software program called "Cercure", which buyers keep on their computer; it is customised so only they can use it. The second is a selection of digitised products - at present just songs, held in the same digital format as on a compact disc - which are held on the company's computer in London, and can be downloaded by the customer. "This is the model for electronic commerce - one which really works with the way people actually behave," says Ricky Adar, who founded the company.

His enterprise, funded partly by profits made in the satellite data business, has already attracted a number of record companies and rock bands keen to offer their wares over the Internet, the international computer network. There is sufficient capacity for 2,500 songs, but next year that will be expanded to 400,000. Credit card companies including Visa and American Express are also involved. Eventually Cerberus intends to store films and books in digital form. "This system works with everything that you can store on a disk," says Mr Adar.

The key to preventing piracy is that if two people get copies of the Cercure program and one buys a copy of a song, the other will not be able to play that song on his copy of Cercure. "We believe that there should be ownership and copyright in the digital domain," says Mr Adar. "When an artist creates something, he wants to make money from it, in the real world."