A new system designed to track the distribution of music downloads is being described by analysts and industry representatives as a positive step for sites that sell digital music on the Internet, but how these electronic tags will affect file-trading on peer-to-peer networks remains uncertain.

The Global Release Identifier works like a UPC, the bar codes that identify CDs and other products in stores. The GRid markers are attached to each song, album and multimedia package downloaded or streamed from record labels, online music retailers and services.

Each GRid is tracked so that music copyright owners — artists and publishers — can be appropriately compensated for sales.