UltraViolet Moves To Licensing Stage - Twice

UltraViolet Moves To Licensing Stage

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Los Angeles - The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) this week launched a licensing program for its

UltraViolet

multi-device content usage system for purchased movie and TV programs.

The group recently completed "the third leg of the stool" on the back end of the technology to enable content, technology and service providers to license the system and clear the way for the first UltraViolet-enabled devices and titles to hit the market this fall.

UltraViolet licensees will be able to market content, services and products with the UltraViolet name and logo; implement technical specifications; and utilize a centralized digital rights locker system where consumers' can manage their UltraViolet content.

Still to be worked out, however, are revenue-sharing terms between studios, content services and distributors that will enable customers to access UltraViolet movies they've purchased from a variety of digital devices.

Mark Teitell, DECE general manager, told TWICE that he expects most of that to be settled in time for a fall rollout, adding that revenue-sharing models could likely be modified and evolve further over time.

The premise of the system is that through the use of sophisticated encryption keys and digital rights management technology, anyone who purchases an UltraViolet Blu-ray Disc, for example, would be able to pay one price for the disc and also have the ability to view the title as a digital download file, or streaming media file from a smartphone app or Cloud-connected home or portable TV, for no additional charge.

Under the UltraViolet system, up to 12 CE devices can be registered to share UltraViolet-enabled content at any one time. After that, an older device would have to be dropped from the registration list to make room for a new one.

Mark Teitell, DECE general manager, called the licensing step "a major pivot point." Initial licensees are currently beta testing the system.

The group's membership includes a number of CE manufacturers that are expected to license the system in order to offer UltraViolet support in some current and forthcoming products. Initial DECE hardware manufacturer members include Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.

Teitell said that each member company must still license UltraViolet before implementing it in products.

After licenses are acquired by the CE device manufacturers, it is possible that some products in the field may be made compatible with the UltraViolet system through firmware updates, though whether or not an existing product can be updated to UltraViolet will depend on both the manufacturer and the product model.

In addition to CE device makers, six studios - Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Universal and Warner Bros. - are expected to leverage the UltraViolet system for discs that will enable consumers to then set up accounts with participating online retailers to allow up to six family members to access the title as Cloud-based content via studios, participating retailers and streaming service providers.

Apple and Disney, which has interests in a similar KeyChest content-sharing system, are so far still not DECE members, Teitell said. But it may be possible for device makers to eventually use both UltraViolet and KeyChest systems in products.

"On Apple, we see the use situation split between two parts of Apple, one of which is the iTunes store, and they may eventually chose to sell content that becomes UltraViolet right, or they may not too for a while, that's their business choice," Teitell told TWICE. "But the more important part from our angle is whether consumers who own Apple devices will be able to access their UltraViolet collections using their iPhones, iPads, etc, and we think the answer to that is yes. There are a lot of apps people use today that are related to third-party content-distribution services. We believe it's the case that consumers are going to be able to access their UltraViolet collections [through these third-party apps] on their Apple devices."

Meanwhile, Teitell said the DECE has added eight member companies this year, expanding its membership roll to more than 70. The most recent members include AMD, Blockbuster, Walmart's Vudu, Nvidia, CyberLink, PacketVideo, SeaChange and Roadshow.

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