Just last week, fresh off the NAB push, Digital Fool posted a very interesting article about the realities of UltraViolet based on their knowledge of the marketplace. I have to say, UltraViolet has been a bit of a mystical beast to me. One one hand it seems like a good idea. On the other hand, everything UltraViolet proposes to do, is already being done and done well. DRM Providers already provide multiple forms of DRM for multiple devices. Content owners already maintain a universal database of their users, their purchases and rights. CDNs are already delivering the content encrypted with various DRMs and various business models and various rights.
At face value it seems like UltraViolet is solving some 900lb Gorilla problem that’s not already being solved. That being said, it’s unclear what that problem is. Right now the sole value UltraViolet proposes to bring, is a long-term increase in price and an even longer term lock-in to the UltraViolet brand and platform. This piece by Digital Fool pretty much cracks open a long-needed dialogue about “Why UltraViolet” and moreover “What Is UltraViolet?”
P.S. If you aren’t familiar with the “company” behind UltraViolet, NeuStar, here is some more background information for you.
Sony has had some stops and starts in the Digital Media marketplace. Nearly 10 years ago they created one of the biggest DRM snafus in history with the “Sony RootKit” event. Not long after, they closed down their OpenMG DRM concept and although the product has been shipping for some time, it’s not supported beyond Sony hardware.
Over the years since, Sony has watched as Apple surged in the marketplace with the iTunes/iPod/iOS/FairPlay platform. Sony, on the other hand, adopted Marlin DRM for the Sony PlayStation because it was cheap and easy to implement. That being said, it looks like NetFlix’s recent wins on the iOS platform using PlayReady and Microsoft’s deal with Nokia and the general uptake of PlayReady in the marketplace may have been too much for Sony.
Not a week ago Sony announced they have adopted Microsoft’s PlayReady DRM platform for their “network access enabled devices” which basically means all future Blu-Ray players and future GoogleTV-like devices and appliances. This is a major smart move for Sony. It positions them to be ready for when Ultraviolet takes off (if it does) and it legitimizes their platforms as Hollywood friendly.
In the release we find out they have been shipping PlayReady enabled Blu-Ray players since February 2011 ( a fact confirmed in a recent meeting in Redmond with PlayReady Business Unit MGMT) and that they intend to support Marlin a wee bit further:
“Sony has been providing customers with new types of network entertainment offerings and as a founding member; Sony has been working to proliferate content protection technology “Marlin” in order to protect copyright owners. Simultaneously, in order to enhance the customer’s convenience of access to various network entertainment; Sony has been considering adopting additional content protection technology. We hope to increase customer convenience and enjoyment by adding PlayReady,” said Yoshiki Okada, Senior General Manager of Software Design Technology Center, Sony.
It was only a matter of time before Apple’s monopolistic business practices came back to haunt them. For years I have been saying that iTunes and Apple’s use of their proprietary FairPlay DRM technology was monopolistic and anti-competition. At issue is Apple’s disablement of RealNetworks “Harmonic” application which Apple took direct measures to prevent from operating properly when users used it to record iTunes content.
“Lawyers for consumers who filed the 2005 complaint won permission to conduct limited questioning of Jobs, under an order issued yesterday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd in San Jose, California. The deposition can’t exceed two hours and the only topic allowed is changes Apple made to its software in October 2004 that rendered digital music files engineered by RealNetworks Inc. inoperable with Apple’s iPod music player.”.
While this lawsuit isn’t solely focused on Apple’s use of DRM in general, it’s interesting to see that the plaintiffs were able to get such a high profile exec from Apple to testify on the stand. That being said, the plaintiffs seem to have expanded their general claims based on this new story:
“Slattery asserted antitrust claims allegedly arising from Apple encoding its digital music files with proprietary software called FairPlay. This allowed music files purchased from the iTunes Store to be played only on iPods, and not using products by other manufacturers. FairPlay also prevented digital music sold by other companies’ online stores from being played on iPods, according to the complaint.”
Unfortunately, there’s no hope this lawsuit will put pressure on Apple to license their FairPlay technology to third parties as the judge appears to have cut that notion down:
“Lloyd rejected plaintiff requests to allow broader questioning of Jobs about Apple’s refusal to license FairPlay technology to other companies or its decision to use the technology on music purchased from iTunes and the iPod.”
It will be interesting to see how this entire dilemma plays out. We will update this story as we learn more.
I took a quick look over the weekend at the streamingmedia.com site and dug out a bunch of pieces I either wrote or was quoted in about DRM. It’s interesting how with so much change, so many things remain the same.
To Protect And Serve: A DRM Primer:
Sometimes The Simplest DRM Solutions Are The Best:
Flexible DRM, Can Record Labels Effectively Implement DRM Technologies:
DRM Solutions: Who Holds The Keys To The Future Of Streaming Media:
Making Money with Streaming Media:
UPDATE 09.20.10: Bill Rosenblatt does a spectacular job of describing this situation in more detail for the detail inclined: Check his post out here.
Well here’s another great reason to use PlayReady encryption on your streaming and downloadable content. The rumors around HDCP’s master key being compromised have been confirmed by Intel Some rumors indicate that this key might have been leaked and not discovered via RE.
“HDCP (High Definition Content Protection) is the content encryption scheme that protects data, typically movies, as they pass across a DVI or an HDMI cable. The bitstream now can be recorded and decrypted, allowing an encrypted film to be copied – a huge blow to Hollywood. HDCP was created by Intel and is administered by Digital Content Protection LLP.”
For hackers to actually take advantage of this leak, they would have to build their own chip and load it up with the HDCP key routines and then emulate the key exchange on each device. It doesn’t seem to be a legitimate threat as of yet. I imagine this week we will see updates made to the spec and key services. More to come.
Disclaimer: It’s no secret I own and operate a DRM company, BuyDRM, out of Austin, Texas. We service some of Microsoft’s largest studio, network and telecom partners around the world. That being said, they build great DRM technologies.
Our OEM, Microsoft, seems to have done a bang up job at IBC in the past few days demonstrating PlayReady’s penetration into the STB marketplace for IPTV offerings, the technology’s wildly successful deployment into the iOS ecosystem, inclusion of an RTMPe like offering via IIS Smooth Streaming Services, the imminent release of the new Windows 7 platform with native PlayReady support and strong market support from security industry partners.
The Silverlight team’s Chris Knowlton put out this update with an update that Smooth Streaming with PlayReady DRM is now supported in Microsoft’s Mediaroom 2.0 platform.
At IBC, Microsoft announced that next month it will release IIS Media Services 4.0, a free add-on for Windows Server, which enables cost-effective media delivery for enterprises and media and entertainment companies. Key new features include sub-two-second low-latency streaming, transmuxing between H.264 file formats and integrated transcoding through Microsoft Expression Encoder 4. Microsoft will also show technology demonstrations of Silverlight Enhanced Movies, surround sound in Silverlight and live 3-D 1080p Internet broadcasting using IIS Smooth Streaming and Silverlight technologies.
Partner announcements around PlayReady included Verimatrix announcing their support for Microsoft’s PlayReady technology in their VCAS 3.0 MultiRights platform.
From the Verimatrix release:
Microsoft PlayReady is the latest DRM technology that Verimatrix is supporting through its MultiRights strategy. Under a common unified VCAS 3 security solution, Verimatrix’s digital TV operators can extend their multi-screen services to a wide range of platforms and devices, including those that support Microsoft Silverlight. PlayReady technology is currently protecting content for several top service providers including Netflix, BSkyB’s Sky Player, Yahoo! Japan and Canal+ among others. Furthermore, the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) selected PlayReady as one of the DRM technologies it will support.
This announcement, paired with a similar announcement from Discretix late last month, indicates a strong update in the overall security marketplace for PlayReady technologies within multiple deployment market segments including IPTV, Mobile and the Mac platforms.
Later this week I will post my interview with some key people working on the PlayReady story at Microsoft. More to come.
Adobe’s long rollout of Flash DRM seems to be closer to reality with IBC in a matter of a few days. The technology, originally offered as the Flash Media Rights Management Server v1.0 2 years ago, appears to be positioned for Studio and Network acceptance/approval in the coming business quarters. As a new DRM technology, Flash Access will enjoy the successes of RTMPe and SWF verification while forging a new marketplace for file-level encryption of Flash native assets.
There are two interesting white papers located here and here which describe the ecosystem further. Without going into a granular detailed review, suffice to say Adobe calls out Microsoft’s existing DRM deployment model and Apple’s use of SSL for their encrypted streaming offering.
One thing of note that I have mentioned to Adobe numerous times in the past and I feel compelled to point out here, Adobe’s use of the phrase “Protected Streaming” is confusing and I sense will confused the greater marketplace because of it’s unconventional meaning. In the past, Adobe used the moniker “Protected Streaming” to describe the use of the RTMPe technology in marketing docs like this and this where they describe:
Make the move to protected streaming
Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server 3.5 is the robust, affordable solution for efficient delivery of high-quality video. New protection capabilities, such as encrypted streaming and SWF verification, go well beyond unprotected progressive download delivery methods so you can enjoy maximum protection and reach more people with your content.
It sounds like they want to wrap up file-level encryption in the “protected streaming” moniker as well which I think poses problems for them in effectively communicating to the market what the product is they are offering. If I encrypt a FLV with Flash Access DRM and deliver it to a user as a download and they view it on their local machine, is that protected streaming?
Currently the single Adobe Flash DRM vendor in the marketplace appears to be Irdeto but with the popularity of Flash for online video, I think it’s a safe assumption to say that over time, Flash DRM will see a broader uptake. Microsoft has a 10 year head start on Flash DRM with their Windows Media Rights Manager and PlayReady products. Adobe has a significant market advantage though and we will just have to watch this coming two quarters and see where Flash DRM goes.
In the meantime, stay in touch with Flash Access here at Florian Pestoni’s Blog.
The guy who was on the end of the red Hotline DRM Breach Team phone at Microsoft has moved on to Adobe. Joe was responsible for Microsoft’s well known breach responses to the Windows Media Rights Manager Platform. You may remember Joe from such great events as the WMRM plug for FairUse4WM DRM stripping tool and other fun stuff over the years. He will be working with Florian Pestoni, another Microsoft Alumn on the Flash Access DRM platform.
It looks like Adobe is gearing up for the widespread market rollout of the Flash Access DRM platform as they make some big strides in deploying Flash Player 10.1 and the coming Flash Player 10.1 Mobile platform. I think that Joe is just the man for the job and I imagine once Adobe spins up to full speed, he’s going to be quite busy but that’s a good thing.
Late last week Discretix put this announcement to the market in advance of, I presume, IBC. We are starting to see real churn in the marketplace for PlayReady support across devices outside the PC/Intel Mac world. With NetFlix using PlayReady on the iPad, and now support for PlayReady in Symbian, Android. MeeGo and others, it’s going to be a brave new world in 2011. Discretix isn’t a DRM provider or OEM. They take DRM technologies and port and harden them to device OS platforms. This type of technology was previously available for Windows Media Rights Manager using products like CloakWare but this is the first embedded security offering for PlayReady to date.
Garrett Glanz, who heads up the PlayReady team at Microsoft had this to say:
“Discretix has extensive experience in implementing DRM on numerous connected devices, and we are pleased they are bringing the benefits of PlayReady support to the Multi-Scheme DRM Client,” said Garrett Glanz, Senior Director, Media Platforms Business for Microsoft Corp. “PlayReady’s support for multiple content types and business models, coupled with experienced partners such as Discretix, opens up new and exciting opportunities for service providers and OEMs alike.”
Back in July the market learned that BBC’s Project Canvas had selected the Marlin DRM technology as their go to market content protection offering. I think that a mid-summer announcement like this combined with Marlin as the chosen DRM schema may be why so many outlets in our space missed this announcement. Stateside we really didn’t get notice that BBC was looking for a new DRM schema and that might also be why Marlin was chosen over PlayReady.
Let’s face it, Marlin is a dead technology here stateside and other than the Sony PlayStation 3 which is a closed platform that 3rd parties cannot distribute content through independently, nobody is using Marlin. Industry pundits put the total number of Marlin enabled STBs and TV’s at a whopping 4 MILLION by 2014. The chances of you encountering a piece of content managed with Marlin DRM are near zero and more than likely won’t change for some time.