The Secure Digital Music Initiative, a multi-industry attempt to create a standard for secure, copyright-friendly digital music files, has lost 27 members, but gained nine new ones, according to a filing made by the body to the U.S. Department of Justice Monday.
The filing was required under federal law governing cooperative research endeavors. Companies such as Korea's LG Electronics, Aegisoft, Encoding.com/Loudeye Technologies Inc. and NDS Ltd., a company in which News Corp. Ltd. holds the largest stake, have all been "dropped" from the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), according to the filing. Loudeye had been a founding member of SDMI. However, the group has also added a few big names, including IBM's Endicott, New York chipmaking facilities (other IBM divisions were already SDMI members), Japan's J-Phone Communications Co. Ltd. and Switzerland's MediaMatec AG.
SDMI is the name of both the technology and the group creating it. The group had been made up of over 300 music, computer and electronics companies, including the major record labels, Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. Despite the weight of its participants, SDMI has been plagued by bad press and missed deadlines.
Though the standard is set to be finalized this summer, the group's meetings have not produced "consensus for adoption of any combination of the proposed technologies," according to a press release on the SDMI Web site. The group has moved its deadlines back repeatedly since its founding in 1998 and is generally seen as losing momentum.
SDMI's most recent high-profile action came when it successfully blocked Princeton professor Ed Felten's attempt to publish a paper based on his findings from the Hack SDMI Challenge run by SDMI last fall.
Other new companies added to SDMI were Winbond Electronics Corp., NTRU Cryptosystems Inc., Imagination Technologies Inc., MPMan.com Inc., Coding Technologies GmbH and the SSFDC Forum. Winbond, IBM and Imagination are all chipmakers, something which could play a larger role in SDMI's future efforts than previously.