SDMI Announces Standard for New Portable Devices

IFPI Press Release, June 28, 1999

On-Time Specification Will Enable Creation of New Ways to Deliver Digital Music

Los Angeles, June 28, 1999

The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) today announced the completion of the first step in creating a new digital music marketplace. At a meeting in Los Angeles from June 23-25, more than 100 companies from the music, consumer electronics and information technology industries adopted a specification for portable devices for digital music. The Specification is under final technical review and will have been ratified at the SDMI Plenary meeting on July 7-8. Achieving this milestone meets the ambitious timetable announced just four months ago.

“In just four months, three industries have come together to agree on the first SDMI Specification for building platforms that operate in the digital music market,” said Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione, Executive Director of SDMI. “SDMI will enable the future of music and today’s announcement signals to consumers that this future is coming quickly. This future holds the promise that consumers will have access to vast amounts of exciting new content with a new level of portability.”

“The SDMI specification will allow for the development of consumer-friendly systems for delivering digital music to portable devices,” said Jack Lacy, Chairman of SDMI’s Portable Device Working Group. “This flexible specification permits the immediate introduction of portable devices that work for consumers today, and offers even more choices in the future.”

The specification announced at the conference provides for a two-phase system – Phase I and Phase II. Phase I commences with the adoption of the SDMI Specification and ends when Phase II begins. Phase II begins when a screening technology is available to filter out pirated music. During Phase I, SDMI compliant portable devices may accept music in all current formats, whether protected or unprotected. In the future when Phase II begins, consumers can upgrade to enjoy new music released in both protected SDMI compliant formats and in existing unprotected formats. For example, when consumers wish to download new music releases that include new SDMI technology, they will be prompted to upgrade their Phase I device to Phase II in order to play or copy that music. The upgrade will incorporate a screening technology that permits playback of all content except pirated copies of new music releases. In both Phase I and Phase II, consumers will be able to rip songs from their CDs and download unprotected music, just as they do now.

An important part of the work that was achieved is the creation of a reference architecture, which comprises the elements necessary for moving music encoded and protected in various formats onto devices in a manner that is consistent with SDMI rules. The specification also embraces many of the principles that are likely to be a fundamental part of the long-term SDMI specification – namely, that devices should respect the usage rules embedded in music by its creators. This will enable new business models that will provide consumers with new ways to enjoy the latest music.

The adoption of the portable device specification confirms that the infrastructure necessary for a compelling marketplace is on its way. Artists and music companies can now prepare for the widespread electronic and digital release of the music that consumers want, confident that their rights will be respected.

The complete text of SDMI’s Portable Device Specification Version 1.0 will be made public after it is ratified at the SDMI Plenary meeting on July 7-8, 1999, and will be posted on the SDMI Web site ( Over the next few months, the specification will be supplemented with additional detail. For example, it is expected that example implementations will be created for an Application Program Interface (API) in order to lay the groundwork for standardized approaches. SDMI participants will also continue meeting in order to finalize the screening technology necessary for Phase I devices, as well as to work toward the adoption of further specifications.

“Through this cooperative effort, each industry segment has gained a broader understanding of and appreciation for issues important to the others. This alone is a very significant achievement that is necessary to move forward and develop comprehensive specifications for the digital distribution of music,” said Lacy.

Chiariglione commented, “Jack Lacy is to be congratulated for creating the environment in which this collaborative and collegial process could flourish. He not only has enabled SDMI to meet this fast-track deadline, but he has also laid the groundwork for extending the specification with new functionality.”

About SDMI:

The Secure Digital Music Initiative brings together the worldwide recording industry and technology companies to develop an open, interoperable architecture and specification for digital music security. The specification will answer consumer demand for convenient accessibility to quality digital music, enable copyright protection for artists’ work, and enable technology and music companies to build successful businesses. Additional information about SDMI can be found at

Reaction by IFPI to the SDMI Announcement:

Tuesday, June 29, 1999, IFPI Chairman Jason Berman said:

“Today’s announcement by the SDMI Portable Devices Working Group is the first major step towards the development of a worldwide legitimate on-line music market. This will bring great benefits to all the parties involved – consumers, record companies, artists and songwriters and a wide range of equipment manufacturers and technology companies.”


IFPI is the trade organization of the international recording industry representing more than 13,000 recording producers in over 70 countries. International retail sales of recorded music totaled US$ 38.7 billion in I998. Hilary Rosen, President and CEO, RIAA
Statement on SDMI Adoption of Portable Device Specification

Today’s announcement brings consumers one step closer to the on-line music market they want. The adoption of a system to respect music on portable devices will give artists and music companies the ability to develop and offer music fans new, innovative ways to experience music on-line and off. I applaud the work of the more than 100 information technology, consumer electronic and music companies who worked together in support of a common goal, a legitimate, high-quality digital music marketplace.

For further information contact:
Adrian Strain, IFPI: 44 171 878 7939
Laureen McGowan, The Weber Group: (617) 520-7087

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