Big guns board Intertrust DRM bandwagon

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Wed Oct 6 11:46:56 EDT 2004


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Big guns board Intertrust DRM bandwagon
By Faultline (peter at
Published Tuesday 5th October 2004 15:36 GMT

Intertrust, Philips and Sony have added more top consumer electronics,
content and technology heavyweights to their attempt to create an open
interoperable Digital Rights Management environment.

The system promised at the turn of the year in interview with Philips has
taken a step closer to becoming a reality today with a new DRM clustering
of companies calling itself the Coral Consortium. Lining up with the
expected triumvirate of Intertrust and its two owners Philips and Sony, are
more powerful names in the form of Panasonic, Samsung, Hewlett-Packard and
the News Corp controlled film company Twentieth Century Fox.

Coral describes itself as a cross-industry group to promote
interoperability between digital rights management (DRM) technologies used
in the consumer media market and it is expected to put its weight behind
the Nemo technology emerging from Intertrust. Nemo will act as a bridge
between varying DRM systems, including Intertrust's partners systems and
Microsoft Windows Media DRM.

In Nemo there are defined a set of roles such as client, authorizer,
gateway and orchestrator, and it assumes that they talk to each other over
an IP network, and work is allocated to each of them such as authorization,
peer discovery, notification, services discovery, provisioning, licensing
and membership creation.

The client simply uses the services of the other three peers, the
authorizer decides if the requesting client should have access to a
particular piece of content; the gateway takes on the role of a helper that
will provide more processing power to negotiate a bridge to another
architecture and the orchestrator is a special form of gateway that handles
non-trivial co-ordination such as committing a transaction.

The Consortium says its aim is to end up with an open technology framework
offering a simple and consistent experience to consumers. Most DRM systems,
such as Apple's Fairplay used in its iTunes service and on the iPod,
prevent consumers from playing content packaged and distributed using one
DRM technology on a device that supports a different DRM technology.

Coral's answer is to separate content interoperability from choice of DRM
technology by developing and standardizing a set of specifications focused
on interoperability between different DRM technologies rather than
specifying DRM technologies.


The resulting interoperability layer supports the coexistence of multiple
different DRM technologies and permits devices to find appropriately
formatted content in the time it takes to press the play button, without
consumer awareness of any disparity in format or DRM .

In a recent interview with Faultline, Ruud Peters, the chief executive of
Philips's intellectual property and standards unit told us: "We cannot
force Microsoft to join. This whole thing has to be done on a voluntary
basis, but if Microsoft systems means that there are devices which cannot
play content, and if that content can play on all other devices, then it is
Microsoft that will be seen as not friendly."

He also explained that when moving a piece of content from under the
control of one piece of DRM software to another, if it was to involve a
Trust Authority deciphering the content using an authorized key, and then
re-encrypting using another key, then there is never any need to "break"
the encryption system in a competing DRM standard.

Coral says it will provide interoperability for secure content distribution
over web and home network-based devices and services but has yet to say
anything in detail about the technology it will be using. More details will
emerge at (

This grouping speaks for over half the Hollywood feature films on the
planet, around 25 per cent of all popular recorded music and substantially
more of the branded consumer electronics goods, and probably has the
strength to hold a standoff with Microsoft's PC based DRM. Twentieth
Century Fox is also reported this week to have agreed to adopt the Blu-ray
disc standard for next-generation DVD players. Not surprising, considering
who its new DRM friends are.

With Sony, its recently acquired MGM Studios and Fox backing the Blu-ray
standard, it's almost a slam dunk for the Sony, Philips, Panasonic standard
over the DVD Forum's HD DVD competing standard, which is still not ready.

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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