Major CE manufacturers attempt copyright protection

Four consumer electronics companies are working to establish a standard for protecting copyrighted material

Four of the biggest names in consumer electronics have launched an effort to establish a standard for protecting video and music played on multiple devices, TechWeb News reported.

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 five companies have developed a set of specifications, called Marlin JDA, that 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 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 say 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. For example, unless DRM systems are compatible, a movie downloaded from the Internet and onto a PC won’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.

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

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