Defective by Design

Day 24 -- SDMI

Submitted by mattl on Tue, 2008-12-23 12:54

SDMI, the Secure Digital Music Initiative was one of the first modern DRM schemes came about ten years ago -- a direct response to the widespread success of the DRM-free MP3 file format.

SDMI would use a watermarking feature and wanted to ensure this could not be detected. As such, they announced a challenge, inviting hackers and crypto experts to remove the watermarking.

One group of researchers, led by Ed Felten, claimed to have successfully removed the watermark according to the automated judging software supplied by the SDMI. Yet when Felten attempted to publish an academic paper describing the analysis of his work, the SDMI, RIAA and Verance Corporation threatened legal action under the auspices of the DMCA.

The paper was eventually published in 2001 after assurances from the Department of Justice that the DMCA wouldn't be used to stifle legitimate research.

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