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Computing Now Exclusive Content — February 2011

News Archive

July 2012

Gig.U Project Aims for an Ultrafast US Internet

June 2012

Bringing Location and Navigation Technology Indoors

May 2012

Plans Under Way for Roaming between Cellular and Wi-Fi Networks

Encryption System Flaw Threatens Internet Security

April 2012

For Business Intelligence, the Trend Is Location, Location, Location

Corpus Linguistics Keep Up-to-Date with Language

March 2012

Are Tomorrow's Firewalls Finally Here Today?

February 2012

Spatial Humanities Brings History to Life

December 2011

Could Hackers Take Your Car for a Ride?

November 2011

What to Do about Supercookies?

October 2011

Lights, Camera, Virtual Moviemaking

September 2011

Revolutionizing Wall Street with News Analytics

August 2011

Growing Network-Encryption Use Puts Systems at Risk

New Project Could Promote Semantic Web

July 2011

FBI Employs New Botnet Eradication Tactics

Google and Twitter "Like" Social Indexing

June 2011

Computing Commodities Market in the Cloud

May 2011

Intel Chips Step up to 3D

Apple Programming Error Raises Privacy Concerns

Thunderbolt Promises Lightning Speed

April 2011

Industrial Control Systems Face More Security Challenges

Microsoft Effort Takes Down Massive Botnet

March 2011

IP Addresses Getting Security Upgrade

February 2011

Studios Agree on DRM Infrastructure

January 2011

New Web Protocol Promises to Reduce Browser Latency

To Be or NAT to Be?

December 2010

Intel Gets inside the Helmet

Tuning Body-to-Body Networks with RF Modeling

November 2010

New Wi-Fi Spec Simplifies Connectivity

Expanded Top-Level Domains Could Spur Internet Real Estate Boom

October 2010

New Weapon in War on Botnets

September 2010

Content-Centered Internet Architecture Gets a Boost

Gesturing Going Mainstream

August 2010

Is Context-Aware Computing Ready for the Limelight?

Flexible Routing in the Cloud

Signal Congestion Rejuvenates Interest in Cell Paging-Channel Protocol

July 2010

New Protocol Improves Interaction among Networked Devices and Applications

Security for Domain Name System Takes a Big Step Forward

The ROADM to Smarter Optical Networking

Distributed Cache Goes Mainstream

June 2010

New Application Protects Mobile-Phone Passwords

WiGig Alliance Reveals Ultrafast Wireless Specification

Cognitive Radio Adds Intelligence to Wireless Technology

May 2010

New Product Uses Light Connections in Blade Server

April 2010

Browser Fingerprints Threaten Privacy

New Animation Technique Uses Motion Frequencies to Shake Trees

March 2010

Researchers Take Promising Approach to Chemical Computing

Screen-Capture Programming: What You See is What You Script

Research Project Sends Data Wirelessly at High Speeds via Light

February 2010

Faster Testing for Complex Software Systems

IEEE 802.1Qbg/h to Simplify Data Center Virtual LAN Management

Distributed Data-Analysis Approach Gains Popularity

Twitter Tweak Helps Haiti Relief Effort

January 2010

2010 Rings in Some Y2K-like Problems

Infrastructure Sensors Improve Home Monitoring

Internet Search Takes a Semantic Turn

December 2009

Phase-Change Memory Technology Moves toward Mass Production

IBM Crowdsources Translation Software

Digital Ants Promise New Security Paradigm

November 2009

Program Uses Mobile Technology to Help with Crises

More Cores Keep Power Down

White-Space Networking Goes Live

Mobile Web 2.0 Experiences Growing Pains

October 2009

More Spectrum Sought for Body Sensor Networks

Optics for Universal I/O and Speed

High-Performance Computing Adds Virtualization to the Mix

ICANN Accountability Goes Multinational

RFID Tags Chat Their Way to Energy Efficiency

September 2009

Delay-Tolerant Networks in Your Pocket

Flash Cookies Stir Privacy Concerns

Addressing the Challenge of Cloud-Computing Interoperability

Ephemeralizing the Web

August 2009

Bluetooth Speeds Up

Grids Get Closer

DCN Gets Ready for Production

The Sims Meet Science

Sexy Space Threat Comes to Mobile Phones

July 2009

WiGig Alliance Makes Push for HD Specification

New Dilemnas, Same Principles:
Changing Landscape Requires IT Ethics to Go Mainstream

Synthetic DNS Stirs Controversy:
Why Breaking Is a Good Thing

New Approach Fights Microchip Piracy

Technique Makes Strong Encryption Easier to Use

New Adobe Flash Streams Internet Directly to TVs

June 2009

Aging Satellites Spark GPS Concerns

The Changing World of Outsourcing

North American CS Enrollment Rises for First Time in Seven Years

Materials Breakthrough Could Eliminate Bootups

April 2009

Trusted Computing Shapes Self-Encrypting Drives

March 2009

Google, Publishers to Try New Advertising Methods

Siftables Offer New Interaction Model for Serious Games

Hulu Boxed In by Media Conglomerates

February 2009

Chips on Verge of Reaching 32 nm Nodes

Hathaway to Lead Cybersecurity Review

A Match Made in Heaven: Gaming Enters the Cloud

January 2009

Government Support Could Spell Big Year for Open Source

25 Reasons For Better Programming

Web Guide Turns Playstation 3 Consoles into Supercomputing Cluster

Flagbearers for Technology: Contemporary Techniques Showcase US Artifact and European Treasures

December 2008

.Tel TLD Debuts As New Way to Network

Science Exchange

November 2008

The Future is Reconfigurable

Studios Agree on DRM Infrastructure

by George Lawton

The majority of large movie studios have partnered in creating a shared infrastructure for digital rights management (DRM) called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem. The DECE infrastructure will be marketed to the public as Ultraviolet.

"While a lot of people can get content illegally, Ultraviolet is the most thought-out, ironed-out solution in 20 years," said Richard Doherty, research director of the Envisioneering Group, a market research firm. "This is the best chance for consumers to get the content they want, have it portable, and not think about resorting to their nephew."

In the past, the studios have agreed on specific copy-protection schemes, such as Content Scrambling System (CSS) and, later, High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) for protecting DVDs. These encryption schemes provided some deterrent to piracy, but hackers soon found workarounds. Vendors have also developed various platform-specific content protection schemes for smart phones, set-top boxes, TVs, and game consoles.

"Ultraviolet is about a new concept of right for consumers and how the industry can give consumers a standard media product for the Internet age," said Mark Teitell, DECE's general manager.

Rather than focus on a specific encryption scheme, Ultraviolet will provide key management and a DRM interchange service to protect movies delivered on physical and electronic media. The consumer will be able to acquire content once from any source, then play it on up to 12 devices — each of which could use a separate DRM scheme.

Building the Open DRM Exchange

Traditional DRM approaches prevent consumers from legally loading their movies to another device. Apple addressed this problem with its iTunes infrastructure, which lets a person set up an account once, then load it onto a PC, iPhone, or TV.

"By and large, Apple iTunes is the benchmark for delivering the most music and video with some minor breaks," explained Doherty. "Apple has provided the best balance of convenience and rights management."

The movie studios would like to replicate this functionality in a more open way. When Ultraviolet service goes live in mid-2011, it will support five conditional access systems, including Adobe Flash Access, Microsoft PlayReady, CMA-OMA v2, Marlin, and Widevine.

The infrastructure will let media and consumer electronics manufacturers use the best DRM for their application and then use the Ultraviolet service for rights management and DRM translation. Files will be encoded once in the DECE Common File Format (CFF), which can be automatically translated into any compliant DRM.

DRM as a Service

In addition to allowing consumers the right to play purchased content on multiple devices, the DECE infrastructure has two other main benefits. It will support streaming access via set-top boxes, connected TVs and computers, and it enables consumers to buy a physical Blu-ray disk and transfer the rights to another device, such as a smart phone, without having to rip the disk.

When people buy a disk that supports Ultraviolet, they will be able to open an Ultraviolet account without having to provide any credit card information. They can add the rights to new disks or from content acquired online. They can continue to watch the content in their account, even if the original physical media is damaged or lost.

The infrastructure also solves the content encoding challenges now plaguing movie studios for digital distribution. At the moment, competing consumer electronics platforms support different media formats and DRM encryption systems. For premium releases, a studio might have to make as many as 22 different DRM/content format combinations to support each different device. With Ultraviolet, they can save the file once in Ultraviolet CFF, which will automatically negotiate the rights and convert the file for each movie device.

The infrastructure will also make it easier for studios to protect content across a variety of consumer electronic devices, such as TVs, game consoles, and smart phones which use different DRM systems. "It's like the Rosetta stone of DRM," said Teitell.

Gathering Industry Support

Six of the largest movie studios are planning to support Ultraviolet from the beginning: Fox, NBC, Universal, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Paramount. "I don't think any technology has gotten that much traction from the outset," said Teitell. "The studios took several years to adopt the DVD and then the Blu-ray player."

Two notable absentees from the Ultraviolet partnership are Apple and Disney. Apple has little to gain from a service that threatens to cannibalize its iTunes business. Disney has been working on a related digital locker technology called Keychest, which was developed separately as a challenger to Ultraviolet, said Doherty.

In the beginning, Ultraviolet is focused on managing movie purchases. In the future, Teitell expects to expand into movie rentals and content subscriptions. It could also expand to other media types such as music, books, or games. "I think we'll get signals from other content owners and application makers that would like to extend the concept to other realms," said Teitell.

George Lawton is an independent journalist in Guerneville, CA Contact him at glawton@glawton.com.