Where's SDMI? Code to battle piracy is MIA

Wednesday, 1 May 2002, 1:21 PM EST

Four years ago the record industry and some technology companies banded together to match wits in a combined effort to stamp out Internet music piracy.

Their goal: to usher in an age of secure digital songs wrapped in unbreakable code.

The Secure Digital Music Initiative was supposed to be just the medicine to marginalize the Napster phenomenon. Soon, there would be SDMI protected CDs and SDMI digital music downloads playing only on SDMI-compliant devices.

Failure would mean "the Internet will simply become a world where nothing happens -- where nothing has value," SDMI's director, Leonardo Chiariglione, said at the time. Chiariglione now works at Telecom Italia Labs.

Now SDMI is roadkill, outpaced by developments in digital technology and done in by the narrow interests of its own members -- record labels competing for dominance and music hardware companies impatient to get their products out to consumers.

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