Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DECE's Ultraviolet: Still invisible to the naked eye

The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, a consortium of 60 video content, distribution and DRM companies including Sony, Time Warner, News Corporation, NBC Universal, Paramount, Comcast and Cox, has announced Ultraviolet, the new brand name for DECE's initiative. Today, consumers have to deal with a thicket of different DRM schemes; content that works on one device might not work on another one, and their rights for using the same content on multiple devices can differ dramatically. Ultraviolet's goal is to smooth over the differences, so that consumers have uniform rules for how they can access and use content on multiple devices.

Consortia are inherently slow at making decisions, and with so many different members with different technology and agendas, DECE has been very slow to arrive at an architecture that its members can actually implement. In fact, there are still no finalized technical specifications, only a trademark and a set of goals. Also, the promise of universal interoperability is only a promise unless everyone buys in, and Apple and Disney have opted out of the DECE consortium in order to develop their own platform.

The odds for Ultraviolet's success, when it's finally defined, aren't great. Streaming content, which is inherently stored in the cloud and doesn't require the same level of DRM as content that's intended for local storage, is taking over in video, which is DECE's primary target. Ultraviolet is likely to be irrelevant by the time that DECE completes its specifications.
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