Introducing Project Hudson
Hey, you copyright criminals, Project Hudson has arrived.
That's what the new Big Five - Intel, Nokia, Samsung, Toshiba and Matshushita - are calling their "Internet-based wireless protection" plan that could, "permit users of hand-held devices to share movie or music files on a limited basis or permit files to be shared for promotional purposes. Users could also hear a song before deciding whether to buy it".
Now all they have to do is convince Hollywood [read the Big Seven movie studios and the old Big Five record labels] to buy into it and toss the many and various DRM schemes being developed by the likes of Sony, Philips, Apple, RealNetworks, Roxio and, of course, Microsoft with its Windows Media Rights Manager, into the can.
Or put another way, "Five of what industry executives say are the world's most powerful computer, cellphone and electronics companies are planning a new system for protecting digital music, video and software from illicit file sharing," says John Markoff's New York Times Five Giants in Technology Unite to Deter File Sharing.
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As the new Big Five "prepare to converge on Las Vegas this week for the annual Consumer Electronics Show" the fight over "what has come to be known as 'digital rights management' [DRM to you thieving peasants] is expected to move to the back burner, at least briefly," says Markham.
That way, the report continues, "everyone can celebrate the long-awaited recovery for the consumer electronics and entertainment businesses that manifested itself in their best holiday buying season since the late 1990's".
Apparently, the quints plan to announce their 'new approach' next month so they can cash in on all the lovely PR and glitter generated by the Grammy and Academy Awards ceremonies.
"For the entertainment industry, the Internet has often been viewed primarily as a threat because it makes it possible to transmit copies of just about any original work that can be converted to digital code to just about anyone in the world," the report explains.
"But it is increasingly being viewed more positively by some entertainment strategists, who recognize that the Internet's nature as an 'always on' medium makes it possible to refine new 'digital leashes' to help ensure that copy protection plans are not subverted."
"Entertainment strategists". Right.
'Always on' means Non-Stop money, of course, and 'digital leashes' means Hollywood gets to control who buys what, where and when, something it's been trying to achieve for quite some time via Broadcast Flag and the FTC and similar 'strategies'.
"Beyond trying to convince Hollywood and the recording industry that new technology can prevent illegal sharing of digital content without unduly restricting use, the consortium's approach represents an effort to control the standards and garner the rewards from developing a successful system," says Markoff.
Of course, Intel, et al, will also have to consider the recently launched Content Reference Forum (CRF), sired by the Big Eight - ARM, ContentGuard, Macrovision, Microsoft, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Universal Music Group and VeriSign.
"In a move that will positively impact the global digital content market, leading technology and content-related companies have established the to develop a universal way to distribute digital content across various mediums and geographies," they say
In the meanwhile, "Balancing the proliferation of competing digital information protection plans is a growing realization that the industry needs common standards," adds Markoff.
"That failure is hampering the growth of digital technologies, said Leonardo Chiariglione, an Italian electrical engineer who founded the group that developed the original MP3 digital audio compression standard widely used to play music on computers and share it across networks.
"'Content should be as transparent as it is today with MP3," Mr. Chiariglione said. "It should be movable anywhere and still be protected. If we stay with digital islands people have a legitimate excuse to piracy'."