Sun Microsystems launches Open Media Commons initiative project

Sun Microsystems Inc., weighing in on the fractious issue of protecting copyrighted digital content, on Sunday announced a project it calls the Open Media Commons initiative aimed at creating an open-source, royalty-free digital-rights management standard.

The issue of digital-rights management, or DRM, has spurred a number of plans to protect content, ranging from standards for mobile phones, digital music players, CDs, DVDs and other media, available from InterTrust, Microsoft Corp., Apple Computer Inc., Sony Corp. and others.

Sun is now throwing its hat in the ring, and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Schwartz argues that the growing number of rival DRM standards that are incompatible with one another could stifle innovation and economic growth, Reuters informs.

"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 said in a telephone interview.

Sun said that its Project DReaM includes a piece of software known as an API that Sun said makes it easier to build and manage video streams delivered over networks.

The project also includes what Sun calls DRM-Opera, an interoperable DRM standard that is independent of specific hardware and operating systems, and is not restricted to specific media formats. It also enables a user-based licence provision, compared to the majority of today's methods, where licenses are assigned to actual devices.

"It's important they're making this effort but what will be the proof points are when the rights holders (to the digital content) and device makers get on board," McGuire said.

But analysts said the project is ambitious, citing the need for content owners, software developers and device makers to be on board. Open-source software is that which is made freely available so programmers can modify and improve it.

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