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Sun Microsystems Inc. plans open-source DRM

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 23 Aug 2005 13:08 User comments (5)

Sun Microsystems Inc. plans open-source DRM In a world where content holders need to protect their content as best they can, companies are often forced to part with a lot of money to license DRM technology for the purpose. Sun Microsystems Inc. is offering the digital world another gift. The company announced a project called the Open Media Commons which is aimed at creating an open-source Digital Rights Management (DRM) standard. To add to the fact that it will be open-source, it will also be completely royalty-free.
DRM effectively allows restrictions to be placed on digital content that can thwart piracy efforts. However, DRM has not gotten a warm welcome from consumers who believe that limitations on some DRM protected content are too strict. Sun Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Schwartz believes the growing number of rivals of DRM standards could stifle innovation and economic growth due to the standards being incompatible with one another.

"The industry generally falls into two camps: Those who support what we're up to and others who want to collect a fee for using their own DRM standards", Schwartz told Reuters. Analysts believe the project is ambitious. Content owners, software developers and device manufacturers need to be on board to make it work. Schwartz plans to call for cross-industry collaboration in developing the technology. He believes it is the key to the free creation, duplication and distribution of digital content.

"It's an interesting idea," Gartner G2 analyst Mike McGuire said. "But you've got a whole bunch of audiences that have to be satisfied with this." The incompatibility of DRM standards is becoming an annoyance not only to consumers but also to content providers such as major music labels. For example, Apple has been under fire for months for it's tight grip on it's FairPlay DRM technology meaning songs bought from iTunes can only be played with Apple software or on Apple devices (iPod) due to the companies failure to license FairPlay to third parties.

Also, newer copy protected CDs that contain digital files protected by DRM along with the Audio CD content are becoming more of a problem to iPod owners, as you can't store these WMA files on an iPod. If Apple wasn't so protective of FairPlay, then CDs could be made that contain digital files for iPods also.


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5 user comments

123.8.2005 14:13

Open Source is good...but as they said many people will not b sure bout it because of the format if they can make it universal as like mp3 and wav files and play it on many diffrent player formats it may beat Apples Ipod and become more used worldwide....we just have to wait and c....

223.8.2005 15:02

hmm, well open source DRM seems almost oxymoronic... but, open source means that maybe people can write decrypting programs and whatnot for it, not sure exactly of how it works...

323.8.2005 18:57

Yea it does sound oxymoronic. I thought that when I read the title. I understand what they are trying to do though. It just seems like people would be able to "turn it off" using open-source software, if they wanted too. Although doing so would still be illegal (in the US). I think it would ease the consumer confussion, and possibly make it so independent music aritist can make money using current P2P and Bit-Torrent technologies. Maybe.

423.8.2005 21:44

That was my first thought too. Open-source DRM is a contradiction in terms. The whole (misguided) point of DRM is so that no one can access the "raw" data digitally. If everyone knows how the DRM works, they'll easily circumvent it.

524.8.2005 5:39

Hmmmmmm.... very odd, this. Open Source DRM. That sounds like "Open Source Crippling". Seems like the powers-that-be are saying, "If we can't beat 'em, we may as well join 'em." It seems like the companies are acknowledging that the open source community is not only here to stay, but that they are also cutting-edge, up-to-date and continually evolving. (Well, "Duhh" - Tell us something we don't know.) Sounds like a Hollywood's Dream-Come-True doesn't it? Plus, they get their expensive Copy-Crippling for FREE!!! No, no no, I don't like the look of this at all. Maybe I'll have to go back and read the original piece more carefully - I must have missed something. What open-source contributor would want to cheerfully aid a wealthy, crooked monopoly in their attempt to control WHAT you watch, WHEN you watch, IF you watch, WHAT you back-up, WHAT you don't, ... and tromp on your already continually-evaporating Fair Rights Use in the process? Methinks these boys are barking up the wrong tree. The last thing this world needs is an ever-evolving DRM scheme mucking up what *I* believe is our _Right_ to protect our new, hi-tech, expensive Hi-Def discs by having our own home-made backup copy. "Backup Copy" is a filthy phrase to Hollywood, and movie retailers/renters. Tough. "DRM" is a filthy phrase to me. 'Specially "evolving" ones.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 24 Aug 2005 @ 5:42

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