Sun To Publish Open-Source DRM Specs

The draft digital-rights management specifications will take between 12 and 18 months to complete, but in the meantime companies can still use them in products, Sun says.

Laurie Sullivan, Contributor

February 10, 2006

2 Min Read

Sun Microsystems Inc. will publish open-source technical drafts for conditional access specifications (CAS) and digital rights management (DRM) within the next 10 days, the company said Friday.

The open-source project is under Sun's Open Media Commons (OMS) initiative to license content to individuals rather than machines, such as cellular phones, MP3 players, PCs and set-top boxes. "The specifications need more work before they can ship, but there are many startups that would have shipped them a long time ago," said Tom Jacobs, director of research at Sun Labs, and project lead for Open Media Commons. "We think it will take between 12 and 18 months to complete, but in reality we will have specs in which independent companies can either modify existing products or build new ones before the end of the year."

Then in March, Sun will hold a developers conference for those contributing to the technical specification to talk about release dates.

The event will give developers a forum to ask questions, get clarification, and propose new directions and ideas. Sun also will lead discussions on contributing to the project, as well as provide an opportunity for companies to state their plans. A time table for code integration will be announced, too.

Sun established the project within its Open Media Commons initiative in August 2005 to develop specifications for open-source and royalty-free codec and digital content. The CAS and DRM specifications are developed within Sun's DReaM Project, which is released under the open-source Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL).

Open Media Commons also aims to create an open environment where creators, content owners, consumers, network operators, technology providers and consumer electronics device manufacturers can work together to address the technical problems associated with DRM.

The technical specifications will cover a range of content from Internet protocol television to video and music downloaded on a PC or mobile phone to corporate spreadsheets and white papers.

Industries where Sun's DRM project applies includes corporate, education, government, healthcare, and others where there is a need for privacy. The ability for companies to protect presentations and documents are as important as protecting an individual's radiology records and health profile, Jacobs said. "Your doctor could access the information required without letting the orderly look up private information," he said. "Today, that is totally wide open and not secure."

Different licensing policies will apply for each media. "If someone got terminated from my company tomorrow, it would be easy for me to revoke your rights to the presentations and documents that are spinning on their notebook computer," Jacobs said. "Once documents get out and you don't have a tie back to licensing authority how do you make those documents disappear?"

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