For pack rats with shelves chock-full of dusty DVDs, Blu-rays, VHS tapes and other antiques, UltraViolet is good news. UltraViolet’s plan is to create virtual storage lockers in the cloud in which consumers can store and access their digital video content.

There was progress toward the commercialization of UltraViolet this week, with Neustar Media submitting a candidate release of the UltraViolet Digital Rights Locker and Coordinator technology for final beta testing to the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). (For more, see Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem Unveils UltraViolet Brand).

DECE is a consortium of some 70 companies in the digital-media space, spearheading UltraViolet. Members include such operators as Cox and Comcast; vendors like ARRIS and Cisco; Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate; CE giants Microsoft and Sony; and content-protection companies irdeto and NDS, just to name of few of the stakeholders. There are notable exceptions, however: Disney and Apple.

The UltraViolet Coordinator will enable users to purchase and access their film and TV content virtually anywhere and across a variety of devices, and it will be available for companies to start implementing this summer.

“The submission of the candidate release of the UltraViolet Digital Rights Locker technology to the DECE consortium is the beginning of the commercialization process for UltraViolet,” notes Timothy Dodd, vice president/general manager at Neustar Media.

Dodd says DECE members are motivated by the prospect of selling more digital video. In the existing fragmented marketplace, if a consumer buys a game for the Xbox, it won’t work on the PlayStation. Blu-rays won’t play on DVD players, and digital files by and large don’t work just anywhere. "Consumers have pretty much opted out," says Dodd. "They rent from Netflix instead of purchasing digital content."

UltraViolet will use a new "common file format" that interoperates with all five of the major digital rights management (DRM) systems: Microsoft’s PlayReady, Adobe’s Flash Access, Google’s Widevine, Marlin and CMLA’s OMA.

DECE member companies have already begun integrating their applications and services with the technology and interfaces provided by Neustar. "We would expect to see commercial launches in Q3," says Dodd.

A New Breed

Digital rights lockers are part of a new breed of services to help consumers manage their content in the cloud. (For more, see Consumers Demand Ways To Organize Devices, Content).

In June, Apple introduced its iCloud, a set of free cloud services that encourages people to store vast amounts of data in the cloud for access from any device. (For more, see Apple Goes For the Cloud; Microsoft Primes Xbox).

According to Dodd, there are similarities between iCloud and UltraViolet, but the main distinction is that UltraViolet focuses on video and interoperability between DRM systems and devices. "(UltraViolet) is all about film and TV," he says. "If Apple wants to join, that would be great."

-Linda Hardesty

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