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DLNA seeks open standard for DRM interoperability

Posted: 14 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:digital living network? digital rights management? DLN Alliance?

The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) said it will release a request for proposals for digital rights management (DRM) interoperability, seeking an open standard to enable various DRM products to work together.

The effort marks the next major milestone for the DLNA group that believes it is close to achieving its major goal of establishing a baseline of interoperability for digital home products using Internet protocol-based networks.

A DLNA working group on digital rights aims to endorse a mechanism that would allow content purchased on one device to be securely played back on another system. The Coral Consortium has outlined such a technique, however, it is still trying to get service and content owners to adopt it.

Scott Smyers, president of DLNA, said he has seen evidence content and service providers are beginning to work with Coral's technology. An increasing number of the companies have been actively participating in DLNA recently. They have formed their own task group within DLNA and have been engaged in the DRM effort, he said.

Coral described a method in which content or service providers can express in a standard manner the digital rights a user has purchased with a piece of content. Those rights can then be transferred from the DRM used in one system to the DRM in another.

The approach would require work from content and service providers to articulate business rules in software. It would not necessarily require any work in underlying DRM products. Coral's approach could be used even if Microsoft Corp. makes no changes to its Windows Media DRM. However, Apple would have to modify its iTunes service so that songs sold their using Apple's FairPlay DRM could be played on other systems. Neither Apple nor Microsoft is a member of Coral, a fact that some analysts point to as a downfall of the approach.

It is not clear just who will adopt the Coral approach or when they will do it. Smyers said he not sure when DLNA will submit its call for DRM proposals, but said he was not aware of any other approach to DRM interoperability beyond Coral's work.

Nevertheless, Smyers expressed optimism based on the increased activity he sees among content and service providers inside and outside the DLNA. Comcast is now a promoter-level member of DLNA. AT&T, British Telecom, France Telecom and Verizon are also members of the group.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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