[opendtv] News: Anticopying fight threatens mobile music and video

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 07:42:19 -0400


Anticopying fight threatens mobile music and video 
  May 10, 2005 8:00 AM, Strategic Content Management e-newsletter

A dispute over antipiracy technology is looming over the emerging 
mobile phone content business, with the telcos claiming that new 
music and video services could be derailed as a result, CNET News 

At issue is a set of technologies aimed at protecting content from 
being indiscriminately copied after being sold through mobile phone 
networks, a critical component of the new content services if record 
labels and movie studios are to sign on.

For more than a year, the mobile industry has been converging on a 
standard set of antipiracy technologies, which could help avoid the 
fragmentation that separates Microsoft and Apple Computer products in 
the PC world. But now patent holders including Sony and others have 
put a price tag on that technology, and some of the biggest phone 
companies say it's too expensive, CNET reported.

The carriers have threatened to look elsewhere - a development that 
could help rival copy-protection developers such as Microsoft - even 
if it slows down the release of their services and leads to 
incompatible products.

The rights-management component is an obscure but critical piece of a 
business that is attracting millions of dollars of investment in Asia 
and Europe, and is likely to launch in the United States later this 
year, CNET said. Cell phone carriers that have spent billions on 
wireless high-speed data spectrum are eager to recoup their 
expenditure, and are turning to music and video downloads as their 
most promising early services.

Already a handful of mobile download services similar to Apple's 
iTunes Store have launched overseas. Vodafone has launched music 
stores across Europe, with the help of France's Musiwave. Germany's 
T-Mobile is offering short versions of songs, while Japan's KDDI has 
predicted that music downloads will add $70 million to its annual 
bottom line in just a few years.

The start-ups that power these services have used a variety of 
technologies to protect their content. Some, like Seattle-based 
Melodeo, use their own digital rights management. Others are using 
technology based on the standards developed by the Open Mobile 
Alliance (OMA).

The OMA technology is now turning out to be a hurdle, however. As 
with other standards, the underlying technology is actually owned by 
other companies, in this case Sony, ContentGuard Holdings, InterTrust 
Technologies, Matsushita Electric Industrial and Koninklijke Philips 

An organization called MPEG LA is handling the overall licenses for 
those companies, as it is for other similar patent groups. In 
January, that group suggested that companies that want a license 
should pay $1 per device using the anti-piracy technology, as well as 
one percent of any transaction such as a song download that is 
protected by the tools.

Carriers and handset makers almost immediately said no. The Group 
Special Mobile (GSM) Association, which represents many of the 
biggest overseas carriers, issued a call for proposals from other 
rights-management companies.

In response, MPEG LA issued a new proposal last week, asking 
manufacturers to pay 65 cents per device, and carriers or other 
services to pay 25 cents for each user who downloads any content - 
whether a single file or 10,000 songs - in the course of a year.

The GSM Alliance said last week that the terms remained "unreasonable 
and unworkable," and said it would continue to examine technologies. 
After its last call for proposals, 14 different companies submitted 
copy-protection tools for evaluation, the group said.
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