RIAA specs for DVD to bow in Dec.

The Recording Industry Assn. of America said the international steering committee, which represents the industry on Digital Videodisc matters, would have a final draft specification for a DVD music disc by December.

According to the RIAA, that timetable should allow for a new DVD audio system to be launched into the market within two years.

The audio standard remains one of the last sticking points in a lengthy battle over various DVD specifications. In its announcement, the RIAA acknowledged the steering committee’s finding that the existing audio format for DVD videodiscs wasn’t created with the recording industry in mind. “The industry’s recommended sound requirement mandates a much higher sound quality,” said the RIAA.

The recording industry, said the trade org, has three primary goals for the release of DVD audio. First, DVD audio discs must play on CD machines, and CDs must play on DVD machines to ensure that consumers’ CD collections won’t become obsolete. Second, the extra capacity in the disc afforded by DVD technology must be used to achieve multichannel sound that is superior to current audio CDs. Third, a new active copyright management system and other anti-piracy measures must be incorporated in all DVD machines to ensure comprehensive protection of music rights holders.

Sources speculate that the RIAA’s announcement was timed to coincide with a high-end stereo tradeshow in San Francisco this week. At the show, several vendors are hawking demo versions of DVD audio products. The RIAA, said a source, is “trying to send a calculated message that the formats you see at the show will not be supported by the RIAA. The unspoken warning is: Proceed at your own risk.”

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