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Removable media, DRM design challenges

Posted: 01 Aug 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:drm? mmc? storage? multimedia device? securemmc?

For a few years now, we have been waiting for a high-speed mobile-network infrastructure to be fully developed for mobile data to realize its potential. That infrastructure is finally in place, with new networks, bandwidth and terminals now up and running. Judging by the venture capital being invested in mobile content and services, there are many creative minds ready to launch new businesses and services to take advantage of the network capabilities. Next-generation mobile services will initially be in the multimedia sphere, centering on imaging, video, mobile TV and music. Indeed, mobile music and video could generate billions of dollars over the next few years.

Few consumers are interested in the technology that delivers content to their mobile handsets. What they care about is easy access to quality services and the content they purchase. Handset setup must be automatic and service access must be intuitive, while content should be safe and portable.

Mobile-content business models are challenged by the limited on-board memory in mobile handsets and the concerns over content protection and rights management.

Removable media, like multimedia cards (MMCs) in mobile handsets, are the ideal "transport media" for storing and moving multimedia digital content from one device to another. Recent mobile-content service offerings are commonly characterized by downloads of multimedia content with built-in digital rights management (DRM). Relevant removable media standards (e.g. SecureMMC v2.0) provide the means for rights management and copyright protection in such applications.

DRM challenges

Ease of use is the central element here. Today, the download process of DRM-protected content involves:

? Opening the mobile browser;

? Finding/selecting the fitting content;

? Being informed about the conditions of use;

? Agreeing to the charges and payment terms;

? Downloading the content to the handset's internal memory;

? Transferring content to the removable media; and

? Starting the playback application (potentially downloaded separately).

The user is then confronted with limited options on playback devices capable of displaying the content. The typical playback device is the handset that originally downloaded the content. The lack of ubiquitous network solutions and rights-management standardization has caused this situation.

Today, there is fierce competition among three consumer-related campsinformation technology, consumer electronics and mobile communicationsand the major companies among them are vying for leadership in establishing the de facto standards for data compression codecs and DRM systems for mobile digital content.

Why is this important? The selected codec and DRM standards influence the basic performance parameters (read/write) and the DRM role of any storage device. For the MMC, this means that it needs to fit the requirements of the most demanding codecs and provide a capability to extend the trust model of a DRM system to removable media.

With the most recent MMC specification, v4.1, MMC offers the highest bandwidth among memory card standards to cover the most demanding multimedia applications. For DRM, SecureMMC v2.0 provides secure storage of content and the key information to play back the content on the same trusted media and make the content portable. The first target for SecureMMC v2.0 is to complement the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM v2.0 standard on extending the trust model to removable media.

SecureMMC v2.0 provides a mechanism to allow both the content and the rights objects for playing the content to be moved securely off the handset onto the SecureMMC under the OMA DRM scheme. The protected content on the SecureMMC can be played back on any OMA DRM-compliant device. This value proposition can enhance the user's experience and expand the mobile content market.

sim cards, SecureMMC

So, why do we need SecureMMC to provide the security functions for DRM? Why can't it be done with the SIM card already installed in many handsets?

One of the main reasons for the mobile industry's success is the diversity of handsets. Users are constantly upgrading and changing phones. It can be a logistical challenge to provide standardized services across hundreds of phones. SIM cards provide the commonality that ensures that device upgrades and service provisioning are carried out on the right phones. This not only reduces costs through post-personalization of "standard" handsets, but it also ensures that the mobile-network operator's brand is the most visible to its customers.

SIM is usually personalized and stays with the end-user. It is the trusted token required in the handset to establish a connection to the mobile network.

SecureMMC's removability makes it a complementary token for the SIM that can be removed from the handset without compromising network connections. SecureMMC leverages the high-speed MMC protocol with built-in security, which will enhance the daily exchange of protected multimedia content. We see the SIM and the SecureMMC working as a complementary pair and interacting with the phone and network in many client-server applications.

Of primary importance to the users will be the ability to add new multimedia applications and content with the minimum of interruption to their mobile life. Consumers will enjoy the easy customization and adaptability of their handsets and the exchange of videos, music and photos among various devices within their households. The SecureMMC is a suitable medium for software and content distribution in handheld devices and ensures various DRM application business models.

The SIM continues to have a strategic role in mobile networks, but technical barriers are now breaking down. SecureMMC has developed complementary values. There is a real role for both cards, alongside the handset and network, in mobile multimedia content.

Future work

Although there have been many steps made toward cross-platform portability for removable media and DRM applications, there is clearly much work ahead. They include:

? Encrypting and decrypting on the fly with adaptive security-speed balancing, depending on content type;

? Availability of a common keying scheme or compatible schemes; and

? Solutions with higher security demands (banking, payment and secure documents).

Today, mobile-focused organizations like the OMA, MultiMediaCard Association, MOPASS Consortium and GlobalPlatform are working on standards to take mobile content, DRM, security and removable media to the next step in establishing a ubiquitous mobile world. Eventual success will in part be dependent on the widespread acceptance of the various stakeholders.

- Emilien Charbonnier, Secured Flash Memory Program Manager

Gemplus S.A.

- Jens Hempel, Technical Marketing Specialist

Infineon Technologies AG

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