updated 5/3/2004 3:58:02 PM ET 2004-05-03T19:58:02

Microsoft Corp. is unveiling copyright protection software to allow rented songs or movies to be used on portable players, cellular phones and other devices.

The company's latest "digital rights management" software, code-named Janus, was released Monday. It will give songs and videos purchased through subscription services a sort of digital expiration date that works even when the data is transferred from a computer. The technology also protects the content against piracy. (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

The goal is to make it easier for companies who want customers to rent songs or videos, rather than own them, to also let those users play back the content on portable players.

For example, with the new technology a user could rent several movies for a long trip, download them onto a portable player and then watch the movies until the rental expires a month later. A user also could rent songs for a set period and play them back on a portable player.

"At the moment the current subscription models that are out there are so hobbled by the fact that they cannot be taken away from the computer," Microsoft spokesman Jason Reindorp said.

The new technology will work only with newly developed portable players, which Reindorp said are expected to hit the market in the next two to three months.

Companies including The Walt Disney Co. have said they are interested in using the new technology for their content.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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