Calling all hackers

Multi-industry body the Secure Digital Music Initiative is evaluating the effectiveness of six technologies designed to prevent the unauthorised copying, sharing and use of protected content

A multi-industry body working to develop a secure framework for the on-line delivery of digital music has called on hackers to help it test technology designed to protect copyrights.

The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), a forum of around 180 companies in the IT, electronics, telecoms, internet and recording industries, is currently evaluating the effectiveness of six technologies – including four watermark systems – designed to prevent the unauthorised copying, sharing and use of protected content.

As part of its testing programme, the organisation has issued a "public challenge" and is offering rewards of up to $10,000 to the person(s) who successfully breaks the codes of any of the systems under review.

In an open letter to the "digital community", SDMI executive director Leonardo Chiariglione invited hackers to "show off your skills, make some money, and help shape the future of the online digital music economy".

He challenged them to crack the proposed protection system by removing the watermark or defeating the other technology, without "significantly degrading" the quality of the digital music sample.

"The proposed technologies must pass several stringent tests: they must be inaudible, robust, and run efficiently on various platforms, including PCs. They should also be tested by you," explained Chiariglione.

"So, here's the invitation: attack the proposed technologies. Crack them. By successfully breaking the SDMI protected content, you will play a role in determining what technology SDMI will adopt." The organisation has also issued the same invitation to the technology departments of top US universities, including MIT in Boston, Virginia Tech and Stanford University.

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