Feeds

SDMI juggles to quash copy protection confusion

Sop to music industry could delay compliant players past Xmas

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) attempted on Friday to convince the music and IT industries that its plans weren't in tatters after it emerged the body's scheme for protecting data held on portable music players was hopelessly confused. The SDMI responded with and an announcement that it would soon make an announcement on this issue. At that point, it will reveal exactly what watermarking technology will be used and how that technology can be licensed by consumer electronics companies. The confusion in the SDMI's scheme centres on its plan to offer a two-stage process. The first, Phase I, was supposed to allow players to handle any kind of compressed music file, even the music business-hated MP3. At some point down the line, Phase II would kick in with users being prompted to upgrade their machines (presumably through a downloadable free firmware patch) to support SDMI-compliant music tracks. Phase II devices would continue to play old music files, again MP3 files would be included, but would reject pirated versions of SDMI-compliant files. So far, so good, but some SMDI members apparently wanted the Phase II screening to be built into Phase I systems, replacing Phase I's planned 1-bit switch -- is the track pre or post-Phase II? Yes or no? -- in the file header with a 3-bit watermark system that allows music publishers to specify rules for what the user can do with the content. Typically, the rule is 'no copies allowed'. In other words, does the SDMI spec. allow compatibility with old, pre-SDMI music files or not? The SDMI originally won the concession from the music industry that everyone should put the past behind them and concentrate on preventing piracy in future -- ie. live with people ripping tracks from existing CDs, but make sure they can't copy upcoming copy-controlled media, such as DVD-Audio. However, the push for a 3-bit system appears to have been an attempt by the music business to get copy protection -- ie. to eliminate MP3s -- back on the agenda. And it seems to have succeeded. The SDMI's Phase I screen will now be 3-bit system, presumably with one bit used as the Phase II detector, and the other two for copy control information. The issue for the SDMI now is to ensure that hardware suppliers who have been building systems based on a 1-bit Phase I watermark can now rejig there devices to support the 3-bit watermark. It also needs to ensure that they can actually get that technology from Aris Technologies, the company supplying the 3-bit system, which, of course, was originally assumed not to be needed until the Phase II timeframe. Aris' system is also the basis for DVD-Audio content protection. The SDMI is now saying the 3-bit technology "will be made available under a licence for shipping after 1 October" -- with an "it is anticipated" caveat. The SDMI isn't going to ratify the licensing procedure and costs to licensees before 19 October, the date of its next meeting. That's cutting things very fine for the SDMI's oft-stated schedule of getting everything ready for manufacturers to ship SDMI-compliant devices in time for Christmas 1999. Arguably, the whole two-step process was a fudge to ensure that some degree of SDMI compatibility could be offered by the end of the year, but it's now looking like that very time-saving approach, and the confusion it has caused, will cause the deadline to be broken. ® Related Stories For The Register's full SDMI coverage, click here

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Forget silly privacy worries - help biometrics firms make MILLIONS
Beancounter reckons dabs-scanning tech is the next big moneypit
Microsoft's Office Delve wants work to be more like being on Facebook
Office Graph, social features for Office 365 going public
Alibaba swings a large one with STONKING IPO legal bills
Chinese e-commerce beast searches for $21bn from investors
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
EMC has nothing to say on VMware sale plan
Rumour and counter-rumour swirl around Wall Street
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.