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Spec Reveals New Details

In publishing its portable device spec, SDMI revealed several new details about its voluntary requirements, including:

A four-copy “limit” on CD tracks ripped and encoded on a PC. To make additional copies, consumers will have to take the time to rip and encode select tracks a second time rather than simply perform a near-instantaneous file transfer.

The provision “applies to all content for which there are no default usage rules,” said portable device working group chairman Jack Lacy. “This includes legacy content” such as existing music CDs. The reason, he said, “is that you can make a copy for yourself plus three others that can be copied to three different devices,[but] as soon as you want to copy it to more devices, you have to go through the [ripping and encoding] process again.”

This provision, which will apply starting with the first generation of compliant devices, “is designed to throttle the ‘filling station model’ where one person rips one copy, and large numbers of people with the same type of device come to load their devices with the ripped song. It is meant to remind people that this is not legitimate use of content.”

For complete 86-minute CD, according to Creative Labs, it takes about 35 minutes using a P2-equipped PC with 24x CD-ROM drive. That’s about 41% less time than real-time recording.

Optional check-in/check-out procedure. This rule could be applied to compliant content on future packaged media as well to Internet downloads. Under this library-like scenario, you could check out a copy of a song from your hard drive to your portable device and, when finished using the device, check the song back into your PC.

“In general, it is envisioned that when content comes with check-in/check-out rules, there is some number of copies available for checkout,” said Lacy. “It’s like going to a library and the library having five copies of a particular book. Once all are checked out, you have to wait until one is checked in to get a copy.”

As previously announced by the initiative, compliant portables will be allowed to play unprotected music files, including those in the MP3 format, but compliant devices will reject unauthorized copies made from future SDMI-compliant files and from future SDMI-compliant packaged media, including newly remastered CDCng an SDMI marker. — Joseph Palenchar