DECE has tapped Virginia-based Neustar to operate that digital locker.
It's also approved Adobe Flash Access, CMLA-OMA V2, the Marlin DRM Open
Standard, Microsoft PlayReady and Widevine as the five digital rights
management formats that can protect the files stored in the locker.
Among the arguments presented by the CCIA is that legal restrictions on reverse engineering under the Digital Millenium Copy Right Act (DMCA) are too severe and are being used by some vendors to place restrictions on competitors and to prevent interoperability.
Tyler Pruitt points out that the AACS-LA interim licensing agreement expires on February 27th. AACS is one of the security standards used in Blu-ray discs and players (and in the now defunct HD-DVD format).
The thing that makes this important is the much lauded “Managed Copy” technology specifications are set to be finalized in the AACS Final Licensing Agreement.
Managed Copy on Blu-ray will enable users to keep a HD quality copy of
their movies on a central home server type device. This feature could
be a killer app for the Windows Home Server market.
So will the market demand "Managed Copy"? Will the MPAA studios insistent on "Managed Copy"?
On Thursdays the USPTO publishes new patent applications. Both of today's Spotlight Applications address various aspects of DRM. The first application discloses interoperable DRM systems, no assignee given. Assigned to Microsoft, the second application discloses portable digital rights for multiple devices.
TechCrunch reports that the Sony-backed Open Market proposal for interoperability among various DRM schemes may be gathering support and momentum apart from Apple and Disney.
Open Market is a set of policy decisions and a software and services framework that will allow interoperability of various formats and DRM schemes that are currently splintering the market. That splintering locks users into a single store and format, and is putting a stranglehold on widespread adoption of movie sales online. Multiple sources have indicated that the studios are putting their weight behind the initiative to avoid the fate of the music industry and as a last ditch effort to stop or slow non-DRM movie sales.
The Coral Consortium,
one previous attempt at addressing interoperability issues, seems to
have stalled. It remains to be seen whether the Open Market initiative
will be any more successful.
[The ZDNet article takes] the opportunity to talk about Blu-ray and BD+ by stating it may slow down the physical portion of piracy but not the online portion. If history “repeats” itself I guess pirates will start downloading Blu-ray/HD DVD/CBHD rips and burn them to said discs. CBHD corporation is also giving people the ability to download and burn the discs themselves, they do this buying ordering the copy of the movie through a special “line” and burning the file to a CBHD.
I'm at the Havard Law School today. Thanks to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the FCC is conducting a public en banc hearing at the Harvard Law School on Net Neutrality (NN) and broadband management. There will be a live audo feed for those interested. I'll be blogging comments from time to time.
Recently published patent applications
often indicate what individuals or companies are thinking about and
perhaps how DRM and related technologies may be evolving. The first of today's applications addresses transcoding techniques for DRM interoperability, no assignee given. The second application addresses ways of binding digital rights management executable code to a software application and is assigned to Macrovision.
According to the AP (via Excite), Apple that it is opening the iPhone platform to 3rd party developers and applications. Now their applications will be able to run directly on the iphone.
Apple infuriated developers and some iPhone users when it issued a
software update September 27 that disabled unofficial programs
installed on the handsets.
Until Wednesday, Apple had tried to control which applications consumers had on their iPhones.
Now, Jobs said the company intends to release a software development
kit in February that will let coders create applications to work
directly on the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The Touch is the new iPod
portable player that resembles the iPhone but lacks the function of a
Steve: it's called building a distributed ecosystem. Among the reasons why ecosystems tend to win is that the number of stakeholders tends to increase non-linearly.
[For ]...mobile phones, consumer electronics devices, and personal computers for €0.25 per unit. Distributors of PC software applications with OMA and/or Marlin functionality are also entitled to an annual cap of €400,000 on the €0.25 per unit royalty.
ZDNet's Ed Bott report on his experiences with Blu-ray and HD DVD under Vista is worth a read. Snippet:
Oh, and about that DRM? CyberLink’s PowerDVD software doesn’t use
Microsoft’s Media Foundation Protected Pipeline (Mfpmp.exe). The
PowerDVD software is perfectly able to enforce the restrictions encoded
on the media by the disc’s producer, without relying on any
Vista-specific features. In fact, the software runs on Windows XP with
SP2 as well. Presumably, Microsoft will deliver an HD-compatible
edition of Windows Media Player someday, which you’ll be free to use or
ignore, just as you are today.
The New York Times and The Times Online (UK) are reporting that Viacom-owned Paramount has decided to release exclusively on HD-DVD hi-def optical discs. This is interesting because Blu-ray's BD+ offers much more robust security than AACS alone. The Times Online says, in part:
Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation have dropped support for Sony’s Blu-ray next generation DVD format in a shock move that will see the two studios exclusively use Toshiba’s rival HD-DVD system.
Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, the media giant, previously released movies in both Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Significantly, it cited HD-DVD's cheaper costs as a decisive factor behind its decision to back it.
The DMP is a consortium whose members include universities, organizations, and companies mostly mostly from Europe and Asia, including, for example, Matsushita, Mitsubishi Electric, Fraunhofer, Telecom Italia, and Telefónica. The DMP seems to be comprised of those players who chose for whatever reason --keiretsu politics, of sorts?-- not to join the Coral Consortium, which has its own DRM interoperability standard. Apparently absent from the DMP, but participating in Coral, are Sony, Philips, Intertrust, ContentGuard, among many others
With little public fanfare, responsibility for licensing the BD+ component of Blu-ray ROM disc security was moved from the Blu-ray licensing authority to BD+ Technologies, LLC. BD+ provides a Virtual Machine-based security capability that supplements AACS key management and revocation technologies.
The move implies that the Blu-ray group of CE companies and the major studios are getting serious about disc and device security in view of the compromised AACS keys and published software for leveraging them. An earlier blogicle posted here on the differences between AACS and BD+ has pointers for those interested in more of the details.
Numerous sources including the AP are reporting that the lower house of the French parliament has approved a law that would require Apple and others to open up their proprietary DRM systems. The bill will not become law until and unless passed by the French Senate.
Breaking days of silence late Tuesday, Apple said such a law would "result in state-sponsored piracy."
"If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers," the company said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. "IPod sales will likely increase as users freely load their iPods with 'interoperable' music which cannot be adequately protected. Free movies for iPods should not be far behind in what will rapidly become a state-sponsored culture of piracy."
The Cupertino, Calif. company did not address the issue of whether it might withdraw from the French online music market, and refused further comment.
While I have great regard for the French, the Apple comment is on target.
I'm reminded of that moment in Casablanca where Victor Laszlo [played by Paul Henreid] instructs the house band to play the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, which is literally quite a bloody song, the last verse of which has been translated as:
Drive on sacred patriotism Support our avenging arms Liberty, cherished liberty Join the struggle with your defenders Under our flags, let victory Hurry to your manly tone So that in death your enemies See your triumph and our glory!
It would appear that at least as far as Apple and others who employ DRM in France are concerned, that the liberty of the market is headed for la Toilette.
TechWeb reports that Sun will soon publish Open Source DRM specs. Snippet:
The open-source project is under Sun's Open Media Commons (OMS) initiative to license content to individuals rather than machines, such as cellular phones, MP3 players, PCs and set-top boxes. "The specifications need more work before they can ship, but there are many startups that would have shipped them a long time ago," said Tom Jacobs, director of research at Sun Labs, and project lead for Open Media Commons. "We think it will take between 12 and 18 months to complete, but in reality we will have specs in which independent companies can either modify existing products or build new ones before the end of the year."
It's good to see the Open Source community embracing DRM. Open Source DRM in use is even better.
Why doesn't the industry come together (possibly with help from the CEA) to create a neutral, embedded clearinghouse firmware application that will enable media players to identify non-native DRM wrapped media along with the ability to download the proper codec and DRM restrictions applicable for playback?
Interoperability among rights management systems is technically a most tricky issue. And there are business model implications as well. Let me deal with these first.
Ridaas has built a search engine for locating technical documents related to DRM and Content protection. Ridaas is keeping his/her identity secret, but I'm permitted to say that Ridaas is a computer engineer currently interested in digital audio/video distribution and
For copyright reasons, Ridaas is unable to make the documents in the collection available for downloading, but the interested party can follow the trail to the source.
According to J. Alex Halderman on the Freedom To Tinker blog, the now infamous Sony rootkit DRM technology (from First4Internet) incorporates open source code that supports Apple's FairPlay DRM. Leaving aside the propriety of utilizing open source, does this constitute breaking the Apple DRM system? If so, how is this different from an individual doing the same thing? Does this open Sony to prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?
Well, not yet. Turns out the code was shipped on the XCP CDs and is installed when the rootkit is installed. However, Halderman had to jump to the specific memory location where the FairPlay DRM code begins, something that would not be done by the typical consumer. Thus one could argue that at the last minute Sony had second thoughts about making these capabilities available to consumers.
As Halderman points out, his discovery raises more questions than are answered presently. Nonetheless, bad behavior is bad behavior regardless of the particular actor: large corporation or individual.
For the avoidance of doubt, Sony did not go wrong, in my opinion, by using DRM technologies to protect valuable content. The negatives include:
Consumers were not fully informed regarding the various capabilities of the XCP (the First4Internet DRM) software before it was loaded on their computers and before they purchased the XCP-enabled CD;
The particular DRM technologies left open a security hole that was then exploited by virus writers;
The XCP technology apparently was enabled to collect and report usage information, again apparently without clear notification;
The software for removing the XCP rootkits created new problems;
First4Internet may have incorporated open source code without a proper license; and
Code was distributed that apparently breaks Apple's Fairplay DRM.
At least in the UK car market, DRM may be included in vehicle audio systems, this according to an article on NewCarNet. Consulting firm SBD reports that car manufacturers want to include DRM in association with allowing use of memory cards and flash memory drives. SBD commends against including DRM since interoperable standards have not yet emerged in the music market generally. Snippets:
According to Reuters, mobile operators and MPEG LA have agreed on licensing terms for the OMA DRM standard. Snippets:
The licensing deal is expected to kickstart a long-anticipated open standard for the protection of digital entertainment such as music, film and video, offering more choice to consumers without the lock-in of a proprietary system.
"The beginning of 2006, that's what we're expecting," said Larry Horn, vice president of licensing at MPEG LA, which represents the key patent holders of digital rights management (DRM) software used in the open standard proposed by the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA).
A number of companies, including Authentec, Ericsson, France Telecom, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Philips, Samsung, Sony, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, VeriSign, Vodaphone and Wave System, have banded together to deliver a hardware-security standard for cell phones, this according to a Security Pipeline article. Snippets:
ZDNet's David Berlind has a longish but worthwhile blogicle that essentiall addressses how DRM technologies are being used by Apple, Microsoft, and others to gain competitive advantage while inconveniencing consumers. Among the valid points raised are the eventual failure or obsolescence of players and the need for interoperability among DRM technologies. Snippets:
Stephen Shankland's CNET article on Sun's Open Media Commons is also worth reading. Among the points made is that Sun intends to creat a standard that is royalty-free because it gets around the variou s DRM patents belonging to InterTrust, ContentGuard, and MPEG LA. Designing around patents is not impossible, but given the numerous patent claims granted to a variety of companies--including Microsoft--it may prove difficult to accomplish without introducing serious inefficiencies and/or without omitting important capabilities. Snippets:
Several outlets, including Reuters, have carried articles reporting that Jonathan Schwartz, Sun Microsystems' COO, announced yesterday a new Sun DRM initiative called Open Media Commons that would create an open source, royalty-free DRM standard plus software.
It's about time the open source community seriously addressed the DRM issue; many open sourcers are vehemently anti-DRM so it will be interesting to see how the Open Media Commons initiative plays out. Kudos to Sun and Schwartz for throwing down the gauntlet. Snippets:
Writing in EContent, Michele Manafy reports on a recent panel discussion that in part addressed content distribution and DRM. Several calls for open standards for DRM. Still, it may well be continue to be the case that many distribution companies don't know what rights they have, as pointed out by Shahid Kahn.
ZDNet's David Berlind has blogged his assessment of Microsoft's increasing traction in the portable media space. Without taking anything away from Berlind or Microsoft, monocultures in this vertical seem less likely than in the desktop office application space (read "Office").
MSFT achieved what some call a "natural monopoly" because of document exchange issues and economies of scale resulting from application standardization. I'll hazard a guess that there are already too many different players--iPods, Cell phones, etc.--in the market place and more are coming. There seems to be agreement on encoding methods for both video and audio. And so rights interoperability will become important to some. Consumers and their advocates are already demanding interoperability. Whether they'll get it remains to be seen.
Most of the articles in the "mobile" category here have covered the ongoing fracas between the MPEG-LA group and cellular operators regarding patent licensing for DRM. This week numerous outlets covered the latest. John Borland has a good overview article. Snippets:
In a press release issued this morning, the standards group Open Mobile Alliance says it is not involved in the patent licensing activities of the MPEG LA group, which recently struck a deal with handset manufacturers. Snippets:
In response to ongoing industry
concerns about licensing terms proposed by MPEG LA for the Open Mobile
Alliance (OMA) Digital Rights Management (DRM), OMA reiterates its
earlier statements distinguishing itself from MPEG LA and its licensing
terms for OMA DRM. OMA is a specification setting organization focused
on interoperability. It exists as a means for companies involved in the
mobile industry to develop open, interoperable mobile specifications
based on market requirements.
Hopes are high that the group's recommendations, largely focused on
existing technologies, will bring more realistic content protection
plans into the digital mainstream. The current approach—one that links
DRM and specific playback devices from manufacturers including Apple,
Microsoft, and Sony—restricts the content market along with the freedom
of consumers to access content they've paid for across platforms and
CNet has published an interesting article by John Borland on iTunes and the music industry. Snippets:
What's new: The dominance of iTunes and iPod has recording business moguls questioning their deal with Apple.
Bottom line: Frustrated at what they see as Steve Jobs' intransigence on song pricing and other issues, some record executives are now turning their hopes toward other partners, such as mobile phone carriers.
Sounds like the MPEG LA and the handset vendors are off and running, according to this release.
MPEG LA announced today that the initial group of OMA DRM 1.0 essential
patent holders have revised the terms of a joint patent portfolio
license to be offered by MPEG LA for use of the Open Mobile Alliance
(OMA) DRM 1.0 specification. The group consists of ContentGuard
Holdings, Inc., Intertrust Technologies Corp., Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co., Ltd., Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V., and Sony
Corporation. The revisions are responsive to feedback from the market
following MPEG LA's announcement of proposed license terms on January
According to an article published at Marketwatch.com,
A House panel appeared to rule out strict enforcement of digital music
compatibility standards Wednesday, but left the door open for more
indirect methods of curing the file-sharing industry's iPod envy.
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