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SDMI

From Academic Kids

SDMI (Secure Digital Music Initiative) was a forum formed in late 1998, comprised of more than 200 IT, consumer electronics, security technology, ISP and recording industry companies with the purpose of developing technology specifications that protect the playing, storing and distributing of digital music.

Specifically, the goals of the SDMI were to provide consumers with convenient access to music online and in new digital distribution systems, to enable copyright protection for the work of artists, and to promote the development of new music-related business and technologies. SDMI was a direct response to the widespread success of the MP3 file format.

SDMI was most known for its SDMI challenge which was announced on September 6, 2000 in their Open Letter to the Digital Community. In this letter they invited hackers, cryptologists and similar talents to try to crack their proposed digital watermarking scheme. This challenge resulted in the protection schemes being cracked wide open by a group including Ed Felten, and worse: they were fundamentally flawed, so that any device implementing an algorithm based on the same reasoning would inevitably be cracked, too.

The intended goals of the challenge are not known for certain, but presumably SDMI had expected their watermarking scheme to be bullet-proof and impossible to crack, or, if it was crackable, that it could be amended so that it would become uncrackable. The actual outcome of the SDMI challenge — that the entire concept was flawed — was certainly not expected news.

The SDMI also published the SDMI Portable Device Specification.

On October 15th 1999 Eric Scheirer - later a digital music analyst for Forrester Research - wrote an editorial for MP3.com titled The End of SDMI (http://www.eff.org/cafe/scheirer1.html), which declared that the group's true goal to fold the technology industry into an alliance that would guarantee the record industry's near monopoly over musical content failed. The detailed argument he posed in his essay was compelling enough to draw a rebuttal (http://web.archive.org/web/20000306085008/www.mp3.com/news/422.html) (though a weak one) from the president of the SDMI himself Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione. In the end Scheirer's comments proved prophetic as the SDMI has been inactive since May 18, 2001.

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