Universal Music Germany has removed copy-protection technology from all national CD releases, Billboard.biz has learned. The move means that releases by top local acts such as Jeanette, Die Ärzte

Universal Music Germany has removed copy-protection technology from all national CD releases, Billboard.biz has learned. The move means that releases by top local acts such as Jeanette, Die Ärzte and Sportfreunde Stiller are no longer copy-protected. International repertoire handled by the Berlin-based affiliate will not be affected by the change.

A spokesperson for Universal Germany, the leading record company in the market, says the move follows complaints from consumers that the anti-copy technology in some cases obstructed discs from being played on various devices.

"The technology is a work in progress," says a Universal insider. "[The decision] is a tacit recognition that the software that has been developed so far isn't good enough. We're listening to the consumer and trying to find out a way of satisfying both sides."

The spokesperson says: "Universal Germany will not be reintroducing copy-protection until a reliable technology has been developed."

Universal Germany's decision is surprising in light of the severity of declines in the Germany industry, mainly due to piracy. Earlier this year, the German industry blamed CD burning and Internet piracy when it reported a decline of almost 20% in the value of recorded music shipments during 2003.

German industry sources say the other majors will not follow Universal's move in removing copy protection. A member of the board of domestic labels body the BPW tells Billboard.biz, "We will not change our policy. This is a solo run of Universal."

A spokesperson for Universal Music International says it allows its affiliates to decide on which content to apply copy-protection technology.