Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) and leading Japanese independent label Avex are dropping CD copy-protection technology from their releases.

TOKYO -- Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) and leading Japanese independent label Avex are dropping CD copy-protection technology from their releases.

The Japanese Sony affiliate, the territory's biggest record company, says it will begin phasing out copy-controlled CDs this month and will release all new titles without copy controls starting Nov. 17.

Avex recently announced that it will cut back the number of copy-controlled CDs it releases. The label has been releasing some new titles without copy control since Sept. 23.

The companies say the move is based on increased public awareness on copyright and the Japanese recording industry's success in using legal tactics against file-sharing services and software developers.

Industry sources say the upcoming launches of the Apple Computer's iTunes and MSN Music download services in Japan likely prompted their decisions.

While most other Japanese record companies are expected to follow the lead of Avex and Sony, Toshiba-EMI says it will continue to incorporate copy-protection technology, noting that it "is supported under the global strategy of the EMI Group, and this will not change."

In March 2002, Avex became the first Japanese label to release copy-controlled CDs. SMEJ began releasing CDs using its Label Gate copy-protection technology in January 2003, and many other Japanese labels followed suit.

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