DECE unveils 'UltraViolet' digital-rights locker

The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, the group headed by Sony Pictures CTO Mitch Singer to help combat video piracy and create a universal digital rights locker, says it plans to launch trials later this year under the consumer name UltraViolet. The organization, which is made up of some five-dozen partners, including several Hollywood studios, CE manufacturers and retailers, service providers and others, aims to standardize the anti-piracy technology in the industry.

DECE's long-term goal is to make it easy for consumers to access content they download or buy on multiple devices--PCs, TVs and mobile devices--a sort of TV Everywhere companion product.

DECE said that when consumers download or buy content, retailers and service providers will send that information to DECE's backend system and the content--and access rights--will be stored in a "digital locker" the consumer can have access to across multiple platforms.

But DECE's call is not universal. Two major players, Apple and Disney, haven't joined the consortium, and a number of other companies have looked elsewhere for DRM solutions while DECE has ramped up. Disney, for its part, has begun development of its own system, KeyChest, and Apple continues to use its own DRM platform as it sells content through its iTunes store.

Critics say DECE's UltraViolet could have trouble catching on with consumers because it lacks Apple's support, and that means UltraViolet-protected content is unlikely to play on Apple devices like the iPad and iPhone. Still others contend that any DRM solution is likely to fail--or eventually become obsolete--as consumers continue to push for DRM-free content.

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