DECE's Plans for Digital Movie Purchases May Confuse and Anger You

The DECE, or Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, is made up of movie studios and tech companies, and is trying to create a way to effectively charge for digital movies. They revealed some future plans today, and they're, um, interesting.

The idea is that when you buy a movie, your rights are digitally stored in a "rights locker," which should theoretically allow you to play your purchased movie on any hardware that supports the DECE standard. Considering that Sony, Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, Best Buy, Nokia, Toshiba, HP and Motorola—but not Disney or Apple—are all on board (and today they added several new members), that could mean a wide range of devices, from set-top boxes to TVs to mobiles—but not iPhones.

There are a bunch of issues with that idea. First, if given the choice, far more people are going to rent a movie than buy one. Movies are different than music, you guys; you rarely re-watch movies, and the DECE proposal has no room for renting. Second, they're trying to make our lives easier, but since this standard is unlikely to be adopted in full force immediately, that means lots more problems: Where do you get these particular movies, without one retailer like Amazon or iTunes? On which devices can you play them? Do you have to pick a hotel based on whether it supports DECE, so you can watch Fantastic Mr. Fox again? Do you have to replace all your current equipment?

And, of course, any solution that's harder to use than what's freely available is not likely to stick around. Ripping a DVD (or Blu-ray) is easy, and you can use the file anywhere—why go to this complicated, proprietary version?

We'll reserve full judgment until we see exactly what DECE has planned (possibly at CES this week). But for now—just rip your own Blu-rays. Here's how. [NYTimes]

Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) Announces Key Milestones

21 New Members Join Cross-Industry Coalition to Make "Buy Once, Play Anywhere" a Reality for Consumers

LOS ANGELES —(Business Wire)— Jan 04, 2010 Today the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem LLC (DECE LLC), www.decellc.com, a coalition with support from every industry involved in digital entertainment, announced it has reached key milestones toward establishing the first open market for digital content distribution. In addition, DECE announced that 21 companies have joined the group which now includes 48 members across entertainment, software, hardware, retail, infrastructure and delivery.

The milestones announced today include:

Agreement on a Common File Format, an open specification for digital entertainment, that will be used by all participating content providers, services and device manufacturers
Vendor selection for and role of the Digital Rights Locker, a cloud-based authentication service and account management hub that allows consumers rights access to their digital entertainment
Approval of five Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions that will be DECE-compatible
Full technical specifications will be available in the first half of 2010.

Common File Format

DECE has agreed on a Common File Format, an industry first in digital distribution. An open specification for digital entertainment, like DVD or Blu-ray, the Common File Format may be licensed by any company to create a DECE consumer offering. Since this format will play on any service or device built to DECE specifications – whether via Internet, Mobile, Cable or IPTV, etc. – it will make "Buy Once, Play Anywhere" a reality.

The Common File Format optimizes the digital entertainment supply chain, benefiting content providers, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and retailers. Content providers only need to encode and encrypt one file type in portable, standard definition and high definition for multiple vendors. CDNs will not have to store different file types to accommodate retailers' varying needs. Retailers can efficiently deliver content to devices from different manufacturers.

Digital Rights Locker

DECE has selected Neustar, Inc. (NYSE:NSR) as the vendor for the Digital Rights Locker, a cloud-based authentication service and account management hub that allows consumers rights access to their digital entertainment. It will authenticate rights to view content from multiple services, with multiple devices as well as manage content and registration of devices in consumer accounts. DECE will provide an open Application Programming Interface (API) that allows any Web-enabled storefront, service or device to integrate access to the Digital Rights Locker into its own consumer offering.

Approved DRMs

DECE has approved five DRMs that will be compatible with the Common File Format – Adobe® Flash® Access, CMLA-OMA V2, The Marlin DRM Open Standard, Microsoft PlayReady® and Widevine®. Compatibility with multiple DRMs will ensure that content can be played back via streaming or download on a wide variety of services and devices.

New Members

In 2009, 21 companies joined DECE, including: Adobe, Ascent Media Group, Cable Labs, Catch Media, Cox Communications, DivX, DTS, Extend Media, Irdeto, Liberty Global, Motorola, Nagravision, Netflix, Neustar, Nokia, Rovi, Secure Path, SwitchNAP, Tesco, Thomson and Zoran. These companies join DECE's original members which include world leaders across a wide range of industries.

"The digital entertainment marketplace is on the cusp of a new era of rapid growth," said Mitch Singer, President of DECE. "The key to unlocking this potential is giving consumers the 'Buy Once, Play Anywhere' experience they want. That's the goal of DECE and one we're making rapid progress toward today."

About Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) LLC

The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) LLC is a cross-industry initiative developing the next generation digital media experience based on open, licensable specifications and designed to create a viable, global digital marketplace. The DECE is currently made up of Adobe, Alcatel-Lucent, Ascent Media Group, Best Buy, Blueprint Digital, Cable Labs, Catch Media, Cisco, Comcast, Cox Communications, Deluxe Digital, DivX, Dolby Laboratorie, DTS, Extend Media, Fox Entertainment Group, HP, Intel, Irdeto, Liberty Global, Lionsgate, Microsoft, MOD Systems, Motorola, Movie Labs, Nagravision, NBC Universal, Netflix, Neustar, Nokia, Panasonic, Paramount Pictures, Philips, RIAA, Rovi, Roxio CinemaNow, Samsung Electronics, Secure Path, Sony, SwitchNAP, Tesco, Thomson, Toshiba, Verimatrix, VeriSign, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Widevine Technologies Inc. and Zoran. This new digital media specification and logo program will enable consumers to purchase digital video content from a choice of online retailers and play it on a variety of devices and platforms from different manufacturers.