Universal Music will launch a Web-based digital-music download service later this week, sources close to the project claim.

Universal, a fully owned subsidiary of Seagram, the world's largest record label, declined to comment on its plans for selling digital music downloads online.

Secure download But, according to one source, Universal has established a security system and encryption method in conjunction with InterTrust Technologies and is ready to launch a limited version of the download program.

InterTrust spokesman Oliver Mills said the company was unable to make any comment regarding Universal.

Deadlock Universal originally entered into talks with Liquid Audio about securing downloadable music, but the two companies were unable to reach an agreement over royalties, with Liquid Audio requiring a third of all royalty revenue, sources said.

Universal’s roster of talent includes Beck, Limp Bizkit, Shania Twain and Metallica.

Sony was the first major label to offer downloads, including tracks from Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam. EMI began offering 100 of its titles for Internet distribution earlier this year.

Both BMG and Time Warner are expected to offer digital downloads later this year.