1997: a2b Music

Photo: a2b Music. The Internet provided a new vehicle for the distribution of digital music. However, as Web sites dedicated to the free exchange of music began cropping up, so too did legal issues of sharing copyright protected material. The inability to protect copyrights threatened to bring the Internet digital music delivery vehicle to a grinding halt.

a2b Music technology was the upshot of AT&T's effort to create a secure means of delivering digital music over the Internet. Employing compression and encryption technology developed at AT&T Labs, a2b music provided secure delivery while also offering a means of protecting copyrights. The two main technologies on which a2b music was built are the AT&T Proprietary Compression Algorithm and a trust management system called PolicyMaker.

a2b Music cleared the way for major record labels, as well as traditional and online music resellers, to distribute digital music over the Internet secure in the knowledge that copyrights would not be violated. It has also served as a valuable promotional tool for major acts such as The Verve Pipe, SWV (Sisters with Voices), Joe Walsh, Tori Amos, Bonnie Raitt and many others.