A German research group that developed the MP3 format in the late 1980s has developed a watermarking technology that it says will help curb illegal file sharing. Officials from the Fraunhofer Institute said that their technology is better than digital rights management (DRM) tools in that it does not require special hardware to play protected files and is less susceptible to hacking. Instead, the institute has developed a method of watermarking MP3 files and software to track those files. The result is that rather than identifying individuals who download protected files, the application tracks who has uploaded files that have been marked. According to Michael Kip, a spokesperson for the institute, "If, for instance, you purchase and download a CD, burn a copy, and give it to a friend, and that person puts it on a file sharing network, our system will trace that music back to you." That scenario, said Kip, could result in legal action against the person who originally bought the CD, depending on that person's country of residence and applicable copyright laws.