Will SDMI end music piracy online? 

8-21-00 11:00 AM PST antiGUY
SDMI guidelines will help curb the tide of music copyright infringement while allowing fans to hear the latest music on demand from the net and even their cell phones. That is the hope of the record industry and the other companies who are part of SDMI. 

That's nice, but what is SDMI? 

SDMI - The Secure Digital Music Initiative is an alliance of 200 Technology and record companies (through the RIAA) that formed in late 1998 to be a "forum whose goal is to develop a voluntary, open framework for playing, storing, and distributing digital music in a protected form. SDMI's work is based on the core principles that copyrights should be respected, but that those who wish to use unprotected formats should be able to do so. The specification developed by SDMI will answer consumer demand for convenient accessibility to quality digital music, enable copyright protection for artists' work, and therefore enable technology and music companies to build successful businesses." 

On July 31st the SDMI announced plans to allow digital music distribution to expand beyond the PC with the announcement of expanded guidelines for handheld devices, AM/FM radios and cell phones. Soon music fans might be using their cell phones to listen to the latest hit music singles, or dial up music on their radios. 

Basically, the organization sets guidelines for devices and software that will allow for the playing of legal digital music. The record companies will be able to set copying rights for each piece of music. If you purchase a SDMI song from Eminem the record company may allow you to make a copy at home on your PC or a flash memory card for a portable player but it will not allow that file to be copied by anyone else. 

According to the SDMI web site (www.sdmi.org) "SDMI is a framework for secure digital music distribution. It is not meant to provide an alternative format to, or compete with, MP3 or any other compression technique or audio technology…. SDMI-compliant devices will be able to play all existing digital formats; it is up to the manufacturer of each device to choose which particular formats to support. The only content SDMI-compliant devices will not play is illegally copied SDMI music."

Will this put the control back into the hands of the copyright owners and cut down on piracy? Only time will tell, but SDMI will allow record companies to sell and/or distribute music online in a secure environment. 

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