Association Formed to Provide DRM Standard

Matt O'Conner
SUNNYVALE, Calif. – Some of the biggest names in consumer electronics are joining together to develop a common method for sharing licensed content and fighting piracy.

The new group, Marlin Joint Development Association, was formed to develop a universal standard for distribution and protection of content among Internet, broadcast and mobile devices from different manufacturers.

Members of the Marlin JDA include Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony and Intertrust Technologies.

Marlin’s goal is to create an industry wide DRM standard by releasing a licensed toolkit manufactures can use to build DRM functions into their devices that support all commonly used content distribution modes.

If successful, the initiative will enable users to access and play appropriately licensed content on any device regardless of how it was originally obtained.

“The DRM specifications we are developing will be adopted by the leading consumer electronics companies working on this project who want to provide a common format,” said Intertrust CEO Talal Shamoon.

The group expects to release version 1.0 of the toolkit before summer.

Currently, interoperability across Internet, broadcast and mobile devices is limited due to conflicting proprietary DRM technologies and separate standards for each distribution mode.

Technology analysts are hopeful that if Marlin is successful in establishing a DRM standard, it will put pressure on Microsoft, Apple and others to also develop compliant devices.

But Yankee Group analyst Michael Goodman said he worries that another standard will simply cause more confusion.

“The Marlin group talks about open standards, but if they don't support the existing DRM formats it will add confusion to the market,” said Goodman.