Sony Corp has developed a new technology for the secure transmission of digital music, in a challenge to MP3, the current de facto standard. The new system, known as MagicGate, will be submitted to the Secure Digital Music Initiative, an alliance set up by the Recording Industry Association of America, which seeks to find a method of reducing digital music piracy. MagicGate and its counterpart OpenMG will employ microchips embedded in hardware devices that ensure copyrighted material is encrypted and is moved rather than copied. Sony is also working on Super MagicGate, a distribution system covering copyright management and e-distribution. The company hopes to license the technology. Fans of MP3, a music file format which allows itself to be copied and transmitted like any other file, have criticized MagicGate for lack of flexibility. MP3 started off with cult status and quickly gained a massive following among internet users, becoming ‘the people’s music format.’ In the last few weeks, major independent record labels such as Rykodisc, and US bands such as They Might Be Giants, have expressed support for MP3. It is difficult to believe Sony’s initiative could ever overtake MP3 while it enjoys such popularity.