Record Industry Backs MP3 Alternative

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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.

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 >>