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01.23.2005
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Major CE manufacturers attempt to establish copyright protection

Four consumer electronics companies have launched an effort to establish a standard for protecting video and music played on multiple devices.

Members of the Marlin Joint Development Association include Intertrust Technologies, a developer of digital rights management technologies; and consumer electronics makers Matsushita, owner of the Panasonic brand; Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Sony.

The companies have developed a set of specifications, called Marlin JDA, which would enable consumer electronics companies to build core DRM functions into their devices, the report said. Using the technologies, CE companies could build interoperability for any Marlin-supported content.

Marlin will give people the ingredients to make a DRM system with a common platform, Dave Maher, chief technology officer for Intertrust said. At the core is a set of rights objects that have a form expressed in extensible markup language (XML) that all devices can interpret and react to in a consistent fashion.

Marlin JDA alone does not guarantee across-the-board interoperability. The CE manufacturer would decide on the conditions for playing content. For example, a service provider for video-on-demand could offer Marlin-supported content that expires in four days. CE makers with hardware supporting content with expiration dates could use Marlin as the DRM system. Other companies that also support Marlin, however, could decide not to support such content.

Despite the exceptions, proponents said Marlin JDA would be a big step toward reducing the many different DRM systems used today, which frustrate consumers looking to move content between devices. Unless DRM systems match, for example, a movie downloaded from the Internet and onto a PC wouldn’t play on a digital video player.

Besides developing the DRM technology, the group has built compliancy tests to help ensure compatibility between Marlin implementations. The technology does require users to buy a license, which is available to everyone at the same rate, Talal Shamoon, chief executive for Intertrust, said.

To become an industry standard, however, Marlin JDA would have to be adopted by service providers, as well as consumer electronics manufacturers. Service providers license content under an agreement for copyright protection. Therefore, the service provider and the content owner would have to agree to use Marlin JDA.

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