The new MPEG-21 standard, brought together by the Moving Picture Experts Group, hopes to define an open framework, known as ISO 21000 for multimedia applications.
More technically, the standard defines a "Rights Expression Language" for the sharing of digital content. It is a way to make a universal standard for permissions/restrictions of content. Because it is based on XML, MPEG-21 can communicate license information in a "ubiquitous, unambiguous and secure" manner.
This standard is the next hope of the media industries to end file sharing and MPEG press releases have said that MPEG-21 will constitute "A normative open framework for multimedia delivery and consumption for use by all the players in the delivery and consumption chain. This open framework will provide content creators, producers, distributors and service providers with equal opportunities in the MPEG-21 enabled open market."