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Thursday, December 28, 2000
New technology could help squelch digital music piracy

"...A group of technology companies is creating a set of industry standards that could help put digital piracy protections directly into disk drives as soon as this summer. The plans are initially likely to affect removable or portable data storage, such as Zip drives or the Flash memory cards used in MP3 players. But the standards could ultimately serve as a way to keep consumers from copying copyrighted files directly onto their hard drives, a daunting prospect for those who download music or videos from the Net though programs such as Napster or Gnutella.

Current efforts are coming in two parts. An industry body that oversees hardware technologies is creating the new set of standards designed to let individual manufactures add their own copy-protection schemes. Waiting in the wings to take advantage of the standards body's proposal is a specific technology jointly created by Intel, IBM, Matsushita Electric and Toshiba, dubbed Content Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM).

At least two big computer companies, IBM and SanDisk, are considering implementing CPRM, according to developers. If adopted widely, it and other hardware-based copy protection ideas stand a chance of easing fears among record labels and movie studios about selling content online.

The set of hardware standards is being developed by the National Committee for Information Technology Standards (NCITS), the group that settles on common rules allowing devices such as disk drives or printers to talk to each other. This group is creating generic specifications for storage devices such as disk drives or CD-ROM drives that will allow manufacturers to add a variety of specific content-protection technologies..."

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