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DECE turns UltraViolet

July 19, 2010 |  9:01 pm

DRM, copyright, MPAA, RIAA, online video, digital distribution The moniker chosen by the inter-industry Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem doesn't reveal much about its purpose -- to deliver movies and music to consumers through the Internet in a way that's resistant to piracy yet compatible with a wide variety of devices. So it's not surprising that the brand name the group is announcing today, UltraViolet, doesn't tell consumers much about the products bearing that logo, either. Not like, say, "HDTV" or "Super Audio CD."

But then, it's hard to convey what DECE is about in just a few words. The group, which now boasts 58 members from the entertainment, consumer-electronics and tech industries, grew out of an effort by Sony's Mitch Singer to overcome the incompatibility problems caused by the various anti-piracy technologies being used by online retailers. The result is a system built around an online locker that will store the rights people obtain to movies, music and other types of entertainment. Participating retailers and service providers will send information about each customer's purchases and rentals to his or her rights locker. The locker, in turn, will enable compatible devices to download or stream the content from the retailers' or service providers' sites in accordance to the rights they've obtained.

Such complexity is needed because content owners insist on using digital rights management software and other security techniques to limit copying. The goal of DECE is to hide that complexity, enabling people to manage or play items from their collections by navigating through simple Web pages.

Neither Apple nor Disney is participating at this point, among other notable holdouts in the entertainment and device arena. The technical specifications aren't final just yet, Singer said in a recent interview, but DECE members expect to begin testing the system this year.

-- Jon Healey

Healey writes editorials for The Times' Opinion Manufacturing Division.

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