At this point, almost everyone understands that UltraViolet will create "digital lockers" to allow consumers to store their video content in the cloud and then access it on different devices. But what does UltraViolet mean for operators?
According to Jodi Wadhwa, vice president/Marketing for Arxan Technologies, operators need UltraViolet to help them implement their multi-screen strategies. She says such operators as Cox, Comcast and Liberty Global are participating in Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) meetings because they have to converge their traditional conditional-access systems (CAS) with digital rights management (DRM) systems. (Editor’s note: UltraViolet is the consumer brand name for the DECE consortium.)
"In terms of CAS, they are deployed primarily with service providers," explains Wadhwa. "DRM is deployed primarily on end devices, and there’s a server aspect as well. A DRM system is regulated by studios and is very specific to a standard."
The intent of DECE is to create an interoperable standard on which studios feel comfortable allowing their content to play on any device at any time. The coordinator – DECE – created the DRM specification in the cloud. "We’re taking the top five DRM standards that the studios have endorsed and have something called a ‘common file format’ to be able to deliver content to any of these standards. Interoperability enables DRM in cloud," says Wadhwa.
UltraViolet’s common file format interoperates with five of the major DRM systems: Microsoft’s PlayReady, Adobe’s Flash Access, Google’s Widevine, Marlin and CMLA’s OMA. Apple is conspicuously absent. (For more, see UltraViolet Digital-Locker Tech Poised For Cutover).
Pay-TV operators have various options for securing their multi-screen content. One option is just keep their content limited to a Web portal, like Xfinity, only allowing it to be viewed on operator-approved devices.
Jatin Desai, CTO at itaas, notes, "In the old Motorola/Cisco mode, we had PowerKEY and DigiCipher. In the new scheme of things, there are no established players and no clear winners. Certain DRMs work on certain devices. Some content providers approve specific DRMs and not others. The MSOs have to look at all the intersections."
Adds Wadhwa, "If they leverage the power behind UltraViolet, their consumers can get content on any device. Their market has expanded. It all depends on the perspective the provider takes. AT&T has decided not yet to join. They’re taking a different strategy with U-Verse."
As for Arxan Technologies, "Our role within UltraViolet is as a security expert," she says. "The new security concern resides at the application layer within the software itself. As there are more applications on more platforms, they become a target for hacking. We invent security within the code base itself regardless of where it resides. Any programmatic element can be hardened with our technology."
UltraViolet Chugs On
In other DECE news, DTS, specializing in high-definition audio, partnered with Digital Rapids to create tools to support the UltraViolet standard. The new DTS MediaPlayer using UltraViolet common file format files created with Digital Rapids’ upcoming Transcode Manager 2.0 will feature encoding and multiplexing of a wide range of profiles of the DTS-HD codec, from lossless DTS-HD Master Audio down to low bitrate DTS Express.
Additionally, Neustar completed the candidate release of the UltraViolet Digital Rights Locker and Coordinator technology specifically for U.K.-based implementers. In addition, Neustar and Civolution joined to develop a solution for the forensic watermarking and fingerprinting of UltraViolet content for potential additional security features to be added to the current UltraViolet ecosystem.