New metadata enables legal content sharing across IPTV platforms

At last, IPTV is getting a standard framework for interoperability of rights information as a result of cooperation between the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and ITU.

The two bodies have come up with a new metadata standard to ensure that that multimedia content can be shared legally across different platforms by exchanging the relevant rights details.

The two agencies have been working on the standard for some years and have aligned their content technically so that the two combined effectively provide a super standard covering all the relevant bases. IEC 62698 recognizes that as consumers become increasingly mobile, IPTV services need to operate flexibly across multiple platforms while protecting content producers rights.

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ITU-T H.751 provides clear mechanisms for flexible digital distribution that allow for simple exchange of content, enabling service providers to interpret and integrate rights information consistently. The standard enables interoperability to ensure that service providers and device manufacturers can easily exchange rights information across their current content management systems. This all follows pooling of the respective technical committees so that the standards represent an international solution for interoperability of digital rights information.

Metadata, or data about data, comes into two categories for TV.

One is structural metadata describing the transmission of the service as well as details of the envelope containing the core audio-video payload, while the other category deals with the content itself with information about genre, actors, and directors and so on. Rights metadata is a subset of the second category, dealing with information on rights granted to end users of the content, stipulating pre-defined "utilization functions," including permissions to view, copy, modify, record, extract excerpts, sample, store or redistribute the material. It also includes restrictions on times or hours content can be played, viewed or heard, and obligations such as payments that need to be made.

To date, the lack of interoperability over rights information metadata has kept consumers locked into offerings from a single service provider in many cases. This is because rights to multimedia content a user has purchased have been bound to a service provider and its platform, compounded by incompatibilities between the way digital assets and associated rights are managed.

The new standard provides clear mechanisms and rules for flexible distribution, allowing for simple exchanges of content between platforms, enabling interoperability between content management systems. It also specifies rights-related information, such as "content ID," permission issuer ID" and "permission receiver ID" that will enable different rights-related metadata systems to interoperate.