The scheme spelled out Monday has two phases. During the first, portable devices will be able to play back music with or without copy protection; in the second phase playback of copyrighted material will fail on pirated copies of the new SDMI format. SDMI's 140 backers include the biggest media conglomerates' biggest record labels: EMI, Seagram's Universal, Bertelsmann's BMG, Sony's Sony Music and Time Warner's Warner Music. (Time Warner also owns TIME Digital.) SDMI director Leonardo Chiariglione –- the early-'90s father of MP3 –- put a positive spin on the new technology: "The future holds the promise that consumers will have access to vast amounts of exciting new content with a new level of portability." MORE >>
News from the anti-MP3 front: Yesterday brought a formal announcement from the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), a music industry-backed effort to create a copy-protected alternative to the wildly popular MP3 digital file format.