Unacceptable face of DRM

The GSM Association is to continue to evaluate Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions for its members after a proposal from MPEG LA was met with dismay.

The GSM Association (GSMA), the global trade association for more than 660 global mobile operators, is to continue to evaluate Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions for its members after a proposal from MPEG LA, was met with dismay by the operator community.

Digital rights management technology (DRM) is key to the success of electronic media distribution systems now gaining popularity on computers, mobile and consumer electronics platforms

While MPEG LA is not related to any standards agency and is not an affiliate of any patent holder, as a company, it enables others to acquire patent rights necessary for a particular technology standard or platform from multiple patent holders in a single transaction as an alternative to negotiating a license with each of them.

MPEG LA licenses portfolios of many essential patents for the MPEG-2, IEEE 1394, DVBT, and AVC/H.264 standards. But its portfolio in question here is the OMA DRM 1.0 Patent Portfolio License.

Last month, the GSMA – whose members serve more than 1.3 billion mobile users – expressed operators’ discontent at MPEG LA’s original license terms, warning that its impractical terms would force operators to implement disparate solutions and thereby fragment global mobile services.

The GSMA’s Board called on all suppliers of DRM solutions – to put forward alternate schemes for evaluation. Some fourteen proposals were submitted to the GSMA for review.

The stance adopted by the GSMA, and the market in general, led MPEG LA to revise its proposal with reduced handset and transaction licensing fees. However, the Association’s Board has expressed serious disappointment with the revised terms – both in terms of the fee levels and complexity of the scheme.

”MPEG LA is missing a tremendous opportunity to unite the industry behind one solution,” said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSM Association and Board member. “It’s clear that the revised proposal remains unreasonable and unworkable – but we are confident that MPEG LA will continue to respond to market feedback.”

We must find cost-effective ways to open the content market and drive the flow of rich multi-media content across the mobile world,” said Frank Boulben Executive Vice-President, Brand & Consumer Marketing, Orange. “It’s disappointing that the MPEG LA has not taken on board our previous concerns. The current terms of its proposals will lead to fragmentation owing to unacceptability, and critically delay launches of these new mobile services.”

“It is essential that the industry adopts a unified approach to Digital Rights Management”, added Alan Harper, Strategy Director, Vodafone Group.