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Nov. 3, 1999
The following letter was sent to us today by Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione, executive director of the Secure Digital Music Initiative, in response to MP3.com technology correspondent Eric Scheirer's piece, "The End of SDMI."
A well known Italian politician, seven times Prime Minister and countless times Minister, is quoted as saying, "If you think badly of somebody, you commit a sin, but you often guess it right." That was a good quote, but not completely accurate--lucky for him. Two courts which tried him for ordering the assassination of a journalist and for collusion with the Mafia did not follow his advice and acquitted him both times.
Given that thinking badly of something is not the same as reporting things as they are, I would suggest that you do not think badly of SDMI and stay with the facts.
SDMI was established on the last workday of February 1999 and has grown to include 150 companies and organizations, representing all stakeholders in the new business of secure digital music. It has produced technical specifications for secure digital music in just four months. Notably, all participants in the 25 June and 08 July approved the specification.
The specification offers opportunities for the famous artist as well as the unknown garage band. It will allow both to be in the business of directly selling the results of their efforts, just as it gives the opportunity for established companies to continue to be the intermediaries between artists and consumers. In the meantime, of course, any artist who does not want to avail himself or herself of the benefits given by SDMI specification does not have to, and his or her music will be playable on SDMI-compliant devices.
Moreover, in contrast to your report on October 15, SDMI is not merely some theoretical possibility. I am sure you have seen the same announcements I have --advertisements and other public statements that announce the intention of some leading manufacturing companies to produce portable devices complying with the SDMI specification.
On one point you are right, and that is interoperability. The short period of time to develop the specification did not allow SDMI to concentrate on specific aspects of interoperability. But SDMI is continuing its work--we have not declared victory, yet, and we have no current plan to go home. There is a strong desire on the part of participants to address interoperability, and this aspect will most certainly be improved in the future.
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