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SDMI Indefinitely Postpones A Reevaluation Of Its Future

The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) plenary decided against reconvening in September to evaluate the organization’s future role, and it’s not certain whether the group will ever hold that debate.

A spokeswoman would say only that it would be “premature to meet with the marketplace in flux.” She also said the plenary members are “still open” to agreeing on a new date. Additional clarity from the group was not forthcoming.

Last May, the plenary admitted that it hit an impasse over selecting one of multiple proposed Phase 2 screening technologies, which would be used on future packaged media and in authorized downloads to control digital copying. At the time, the group said it would meet sometime in September to decide whether it should try once again to select a Phase II technology and whether it should continue to write copyright-protection specs for additional types of consumer devices. The group previously approved specs for headphone portables, boomboxes, portable voice recorders, and wireless phones.

The Phase II technologies were intended to mark authorized downloadable files and legacy packaged media, including prerecorded CDs, with copying instructions. The instructions could be written to prevent SDMI-compliant player software and devices from copying marked songs or to allow one or more copies.

SDMI’s ad hoc committees are still meeting on a variety of topics, the spokeswoman said.

SDMI has contended that its mission hasn’t been made obsolete by the proliferation of digital rights management (DRM) technologies, which protect the content of internet download but not content from such legacy sources as CD.

SDMI’s efforts have produced a Phase 1 watermark that music companies could apply to downloadable music files and to future packaged media, including news CDs. The watermark would trigger a pop-up notice to users of Phase 1 music-player software that they must upgrade their software to Phase 2 software if they want to download or rip a protected song.