A Future of Digital Audio Watermarking and SDMI?
Cahners' Mike Paxton says that "what is happening now in the music industry is both a radically new phenomenon and a natural evolution. The new phenomenon is how the Internet is changing the distribution model for music. Access to broadband transmission will be vitally important to the success of digital audio. The natural evolution is taking place on the hardware side of the industry and shows how a change in content storage changes the music playback device. Just as LPs and 8-track tapes gave way to cassettes and CDs, those audio storage methods will slowly give way to digital downloads."
It's no secret that the the music industry is trying to find ways to control the use of digital media. The report claims that by mid to late 2000, the record companies will start including digital "watermarks" that trigger the SDMI filters, preventing playback on non-SDMI devices. The report concludes that "its rollout and effectiveness at curbing digital content piracy will depend on the cooperation between the recording industry and the high-technology sector."
The report also speculates that the fight over "secure" digital recordings and "open access" technologies will continue over the next two years, with SDMI eventually replacing the de facto standard MP3. The phase-in of SDMI will then boost sales of portable digital music players, with the most dynamic unit growth occurring between the years 2000 and 2002. Over the next two years, however, portable music devices will support multiple compression technologies—including MP3, a2b (from AT&T Labs), and Liquid Audio—until the SDMI standard is finalized. In the not-so-distant future, the report finds, computers will not be required to transfer digital audio content as they are now; retail kiosks, set-top boxes, or even cellular telephones will be used to download selections onto the flash memory of a portable music player.