Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Return Of DRM

Some two years ago a number of industry players came together to create a DRM stadard that they hoped would take on Apple's iTunes and the pirating which has been decimating the content industry.

Yesterday the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) broke cover to announce UltraViolet, their new standard (at least I think it's a standard). But is it too little, too late ?

DRM has moved from control to measurement. Companies are now more pragmatic about how their content is being deployed, but in a download world the ability to pirate is always quite easy (it takes a few minutes to convert your iTunes music to a portable format).

However, in a streaming world things become more interesting. It's possible to lock and control the file being played. This doesn't get around a variety of tools which will intercept the stream (such as WMRecorder), but does provide the ability to control in a very much more meaningful way.

But the problem is that DECE is largely a US based initiative and excludes major names such as Apple, Google and Disney (who have their own initiative).

However, the concept that you buy a content item once and have it available across a number of platforms is a sound one for consumers, but one that becomes irrelevant if you already use a service that does this - NetFlix, LoveFilm, iTunes and Spotify are amongst services already doing this.

Indeed, if Spotify managed to extend their music model to the video market I can't see why I would ever use another TV or video service (the big if, of course, is the range of content available).

The major problem with initiatives like UltraViolet is that they only cover part of the problem and have to keep all partners onside at the same time. Still, welcome to DRM 2.0.