Cox Communications, CableLabs and Motorola are among the 21 companies that last year joined the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), a consortium whose goal is to let consumers buy movies or other content once and play them on a myriad of compatible devices -- such as cable set-top boxes or PCs -- delivered over any network.
DECE also announced that it has hit key technical milestones, including agreeing on a common file format, selecting a vendor for network-based authentication and approving five digital rights management (DRM) technologies for use with its spec. Full specifications due in the first half of 2010.
Founded in September 2008, DECE now has 48 member companies, including Comcast, Cisco Systems, Liberty Global, and five of the six major Hollywood studios -- Fox Entertainment Group, Warner Bros. Entertainment, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures and Sony.
Walt Disney Co. and Apple are notably absent from DECE; Disney has proposed a competing system, dubbed KeyChest.
The full roster of DECE's membership includes technology companies, CE manufacturers and retailers, including: Adobe, Alcatel-Lucent, Ascent Media Group, Best Buy, Blueprint Digital, CableLabs, Catch Media, Cisco, Comcast, Cox Communications, Deluxe Digital, DivX, Dolby Laboratories, DTS, ExtendMedia, Fox Entertainment Group, HP, Intel, Irdeto, Liberty Global, Lionsgate, Microsoft, MOD Systems, Motorola, Movie Labs, Nagravision, NBC Universal, Netflix, Neustar, Nokia, Panasonic, Paramount Pictures, Philips, RIAA, Rovi, Roxio CinemaNow, Samsung Electronics, Secure Path, Sony, SwitchNAP, Tesco, Thomson, Toshiba, Verimatrix, VeriSign, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Widevine Technologies and Zoran.
The DECE Common File Format is a specification for digital video that the group said will be available for any company to license to create a DECE-compatible consumer offering. With the Common File Format, according to the coalition, content providers would only need to encode and encrypt three files (targeting portable, standard-definition and high-definition) to reach multiple devices.
In addition, DECE has selected Sterling, Va.-based Neustar as the vendor for the Digital Rights Locker, a network-based authentication service and account management hub that would let consumers log in to access digital entertainment they have rights to. The Neustar system will authenticate rights to view content from multiple services, with multiple devices as well as manage content and registration of devices in consumer accounts.
DECE will provide an open Application Programming Interface (API) that allows any Web-enabled storefront, service or device to integrate access to the Digital Rights Locker into its own consumer offering.
Finally, DECE has approved five DRMs that will be compatible with the Common File Format: Adobe Systems' Flash Access, CMLA-OMA V2, Marlin DRM open standard, Microsoft's PlayReady and Widevine Technologies' DRM.
"The digital entertainment marketplace is on the cusp of a new era of rapid growth," said Mitch Singer, President of DECE. "The key to unlocking this potential is giving consumers the 'Buy Once, Play Anywhere' experience they want. That's the goal of DECE and one we're making rapid progress toward today."
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