Realnetworks Says it's Time to Play by the Rules
With the digital media market growing at a rapid pace, RealNetworks has
decided that it is time to lay down the law. Last week the Internet leader
launched the RealSystem Media Commerce Suite, a platform offering commerce
solutions for the secure licensing and delivery of digital media.
At the same time, the Seattle-based company joined America Online, Avid
Technology, Bertelsmann, British Telecom's BTopenworld, Clear Channel, EMI
Recorded Music, eMotion, IBM, IFILM, InterTrust, MGM, Napster, Rightsline,
Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment, Sun Microsystems and many others to form
the eXtensible Media Commerce Language (XMCL) initiative, an open XML-based
language designed to establish industry-wide standards for Internet media
The RealSystem Media Commerce Suite includes products and services for secure
media packaging, license generation and high-quality content delivery to a
trusted media player base across all major platforms. It empowers rights
holders to create a range of robust business models for distributing rich
media to the broadest worldwide audience, and will create many new ways for
consumers to access and enjoy digital media. By standardizing the language
for business rules, XMCL will enable content to be played in a way that is
independent of codecs, digital rights management systems, and e-commerce
systems. The XMCL proposal will be submitted to various standards
organizations in the near future.
Industry leaders predict that the moves will intensify competition between
RealNetworks and Microsoft, both of which distribute technology that allows
consumers to watch videos or listen to music over the Web.
To retaliate, Microsoft issued its own set of announcements. The software
giant unveiled Microsoft Producer, a system that lets people incorporate
Windows Media audio and video technology into their business presentations.
In addition, the company said it will begin highlighting how media and
entertainment companies such as EMI Recorded Music, Viacom's CBS NewsPath and
Lions Gate Entertainment are using its Windows Media digital rights
With support from an array of music companies and rights holders,
RealNetworks remains solid in the industry. The RealSystem Media Commerce
Suite enables rights holders to distribute movies, music and other digital
content to over 200 million RealPlayer users. Over 15 million copies of
RealPlayer enabled with the Media Commerce Suite functionality have already
been installed since March of 2001.
According to Jeff Albertson of RealNetworks media systems division, the Media
Commerce Suite software was derived from their GoldPass streaming media
subscription service and from rights management technology acquired from
Aegisoft in January. An estimated 15 million media player applications have
been distributed, which support the new security system with a plug-in.
The Media Commerce Suite extends the RealSystem and RealPlayer open
architecture to accommodate the incorporation of a wide range of rights
management systems. It easily integrates into all types of existing
infrastructures and back-end systems, supporting a broad set of business
models including purchase, rental, video on-demand, and subscription services.
These rights management systems also need a strong set of guidelines to
follow. To create interoperable digital commerce, including cross-system
rights management, rights holders and retailers need a set of standard
business rules to define the parameters of media usage—for example,
establishing that a piece of content be viewed a certain number of times per
The XMCL Initiative proposes a standard business rule definition language,
providing rights holders the ability to take existing media business models –
such as purchase, rental, video-on-demand, and subscription services – and
deploy them on the Internet to generate new commerce opportunities. XMCL will
give rights holders the freedom to use multiple back-end systems that
interoperate with rights management solutions under a common interchange
"The digital media market is growing fast, with incredible breakthroughs in
both technology and the quality of content that is being made available. Now
is the time to unleash the true commercial potential of the medium by
establishing standard business rules for secure digital distribution," Rob
Glaser, chairman and CEO, RealNetworks, Inc. said. "With the XMCL Initiative,
RealNetworks and its partners are stepping up today to help define the
standards that will drive this exciting market."
Barry Schuler, Chairman and CEO of America Online, is looking forward to
having these new standards in place. "RealNetworks is a long-time leader in
Internet media delivery, and we believe this new XMCL Initiative will make it
easier to deliver a broader range of digital content to consumers in more
flexible ways," he said. "We think this new initiative will ultimately be a
win for interactive consumers, who are more and more looking to the Internet
for their music, and enable all parts of the industry to take the delivery of
digital media to the next level."
Supporters of the Media Commerce Suite are pleased with the advantages it
brings to music sites and fans. "The protection of EMI's music content
demands a trusted and secure delivery solution that is as flexible as it is
reliable," Jay Samit, Senior Vice President of EMI Recorded Music said.
"RealNetworks' new Media Commerce Suite will ensure that MusicNet offers the
security EMI artists need, while letting fans enjoy their favorite music in
whole new ways."
Competitors, however, state that the software won’t have as big of an impact
as we think.
According to a recent article published in Webnoise, rivals Liquid Audio
stated that RealNetworks might not have any truly new technology. "From
Liquid's perspective and other retailers who are our partners -- Tower,
Amazon, Best Buy -- [Real's announcement] probably doesn't mean anything,"
Matt Smith, Liquid Audio's vice president of product marketing said in the
Liquid Audio and other competing companies are considering RealNetworks’
proposals, but it remains to be seen whether the rivals will join forces.
Aegisoft - www.aegisoft.com
AOL - www.aoltimewarner.com
EMI - www.emigroup.com
Liquid Audio - www.liquidaudio.com
Microsoft - www.microsoft.com
RealNetworks - www.realnetworks.com
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