NEW YORK (CNNfn) - A group of more than 100 music and consumer electronics companies have agreed on a set of standards for preventing the spread of pirated music in digital format.
The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), a consortium of music and technology firms, adopted a two-step process that will lead to new portable devices that include protection against pirated music.
The specifications will, however, allow future players to play unprotected music in the popular MP3 compression format, which produces relatively small, near-CD-quality music files for easy downloading from the Internet.
The agreement works out as a compromise between the makers of portable devices and record industry executives, who fear widespread piracy -- and lost profits -- because of unprotected digital music files.
Under the plan announced Monday, Phase I devices will go on the market that can play all digital music formats, whether protected or unprotected. Phase II devices will play music in the protected SDMI format as well as MP3.
With Phase II devices, consumers will be able to make a copy of CD recordings and download unprotected music onto SDMI-approved portable devices. Consumers will not, however, be allowed to pass copies of songs to others.
SDMI did not specify a timetable for either phase.