IBM Makes Comeback in DRM Space
Whether it was Napster or a sense that the major labels are close to making a serious dip
into the digital medium, IBM is again making waves in the DRM market with its Electronic
Media Management System (EMMS), a DRM solution for digital media. EMMS is IBM's answer to the needs
for an industry approved secure and trackable media distribution infrastructure. Many might remember
EMMS from its infancy when it was tested cooperatively with the 5 major labels in a trial called
AlbumDirect™. The successful trial, commonly know as "Project Madison" and completed in December
1999, gathered valuable information on user experience with broadband media and EMMS from 1000
households subscribing to the Time Warner RoadRunner cable modem service. Despite a
95% retention rate of participating households after the trial, there remained some doubt in the
industry as to whether EMMS would actually take hold in view of the greater media attention and
partnerships of alternative DRM solutions such as Intertrust and Microsoft WM Rights
IBM has been working to revive the EMMS system and has struck a number of key partnerships. The
latest is with Toshiba's i-value Creation company, which has licensed EMMS for a new
music portal, to be launched in March, du-ub.com. In conjunction with EMI and Warner Music
Japan, du-ub.com will offer music downloads specifically for the Japanese market. The agreement with
Toshiba follows on an earlier agreement to use EMMS in Toshiba's digital devices.
"We believe advancement of the digital music distribution marketplace is dependent on bold moves
like the one Toshiba is undertaking with du-ub.com, which addresses not only content owners'
security issues, but also the usability and efficiency of the consumer experience," explained
Dick Anderson, general manager, IBM Global Media & Entertainment Industry.
The EMMS system was also used to offer downloads of Grammy nominated artists, the first
public showcase of EMMS. RealNetworks was chosen as the featured application for playback of
the copyright-protected downloadable music from the Grammy website.
"Digital Rights Management, the ability to protect intellectual property on the Web, is
essential to the welfare of the creative and technical professionals the Recording Academy
represents," said Michael Greene, Academy President/CEO.
Other company licensing EMMS include BMG, Liquid Audio Japan, MusicMatch,
Reciprocal and Sony. MediaMatec, a content clearinghouse company, has also
licensed EMMS to deliver digital music in the European market by providing a back-end infrastructure
for record labels and retailers, eliminating the need for these companies to implement their own
in-house DRM solution.
Most recently, DigMedia, a b2b service provider for media companies and content
providers, announced the licensing of EMMS for their dBoxer DRM toolkit. DigMedia has gone the route
of providing agnostic support for DRM systems, having also been certified by InterTrust.
"IBM designed EMMS to be flexible and inclusive of all segments of the music industry that want
to leverage e-Business and participate in digital music distribution," said Scott Burnett,
Business Development executive, IBM Global Media & Entertainment.
IBM is also know as a member of the 4C group, a collaborative effort between IBM, Intel,
Matsushita and Toshiba, that is spearheading Content Protection for Recordable Media and
Pre-Recorded Media (CPRM / CPPM) Specification. The CPRM / CPPM Specification defines a renewable
cryptographic method for protecting entertainment content when recorded on physical media. However,
the CPRM/CPPM specifications are drawing controversy due to it residing on physical media such as
computer hardware - thus possibly limiting the full "fair use" of media by consumers.
Mr. Anderson, further stated in a January 22nd press release, "For digital distribution to
succeed as a business, content owners need to be compensated for their intellectual property and
have access to technology that will enable different business models. EMMS' security features and
new superdistribution capabilities are designed to meet these needs."
But with Microsoft and InterTrust seeming to lead the DRM market, what advantages does IBM
have? Well to start off, DRM is not IBM's main suite, it's e-commerce. IBM has long established
themselves as a b2b provider of e-business solutions. Adding e-business to its DRM solution provides
an added advantage to companies wishing to license the EMMS system. Just look at Grammy.com which
has recently been redesigned using IBM e-Business.
Finally, IBM's EMMS system is a combination of five modules that can be licensed individually or
together as one. These modules are Content Mastering Program, Web Commerce Enabler, Clearinghouse
Program, Content Hosting Program, and Player Software Development Kit. This allows for the
customization of IBM's EMMS to the specific needs of business wishing to implement digital
distribution of media.
BMG - www.bmg.com
DigMedia - www.digmedia.cc
Grammy - www.grammy.com
IBM - www.ibm.com
Intel - www.intel.com
InterTrust - www.intertrust.com
Liquid Audio - www.liquidaudio.com
Matsushita - www.panasonic.com
MediaMatec - www.mediamatec.com
Microsoft - www.microsoft.com
MusicMatch - www.musicmatch.com
Napster - www.napster.com
RealNetworks - www.realnetworks.com
Reciprocal - www.reciprocal.com
Roadrunner - www.roadrunner.com
Sony - www.sony.com
Toshiba - www.toshiba.com
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