Archival-Grade Optical Disc Specification

Archival-Grade Optical Disc Specification

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The question of how long consumer images will last once stored optically may soon have a more definitive answer thanks to an agreement between two organizations that specialize in this area.

The Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) recently announced that it has signed an agreement with ECMA International to work together to finalize an industry-wide archival-grade optical disc specification. According to the two groups the purpose of this initiative is to address end user needs calling for established practices in media archive life testing and classification. The final goal is the issuance of an ISO standard available to the industry for broad implementation. ECMA is the inventor and main practitioner of the concept of “fast tracking” of specifications drafted in international standards format through the process in Global Standards Bodies such as the ISO.

Since its formation in Sept. 2005, OSTA’s Optical Disc Archival Testing (ODAT) Committee has worked with a multi-national group of industry experts to develop a draft specification for an archival standard. The ODAT Committee is composed of global manufacturers of 120mm optical media and drives, as well as university and government members. Participating manufacturers include Fuji, Imation, MAM-A Inc., Maxell, Memorex, Panasonic (Matsushita Electric), Ricoh, Sony, TDK, Toshiba, and Verbatim. The committee has also received support from other industry organizations, including Japan’s CDs21 and the Digital Content Association of Japan (DCAJ), and has held seminars and working sessions in the U.S. and Japan.

The ODAT Committee’s defined charter is to develop optical media archival test methodology and promote its implementation. We are told that two working groups have addressed the technical and business promotion aspects of the archive test specification. Recently, the technical working group completed a first ECMA draft of the proposed archival test standard. The project was unanimously accepted by the ECMA TC31 committee at its recent meeting in Sapporo, Japan in late June. Further processing will take place under its charter.

“The anticipated end result of this initiative is increased user awareness of archival quality of optical media as a critical purchase parameter,” explained Smith. “This will enhance customers’ ability to make informed purchases appropriate to their application needs by providing a standardized evaluation result indicator. This product differentiation is intended to eliminate any guesswork that takes place when deciding which media to use when long life of data is a desirable attribute.”

Interested companies worldwide are invited to join the organization and participate in its programs by contacting an OSTA representative at (408) 253-3695, by fax at (408) 253-9938, or by addressing its Web site at http://www.osta.org.

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