OMA Reiterates Concerns In Wireless DRM Licensing War - InformationWeek

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OMA Reiterates Concerns In Wireless DRM Licensing War

For the second time in just a few weeks, and responding to what it says are ongoing industry concerns about licensing terms proposed by MPEG LA for the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) Digital Rights Management (DRM), the Alliance has reiterated that it wants to distance itself from MPEG LA and its licensing terms for OMA DRM.

LONDON — For the second time in just a few weeks, and responding to what it says are ongoing industry concerns about licensing terms proposed by MPEG LA for the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) Digital Rights Management (DRM), the Alliance has reiterated that it wants to distance itself from MPEG LA and its licensing terms for OMA DRM.

In its second and frustrating sounding statement, the OMA stressed Monday (April 25) that it does not have a relationship with MPEG LA and did not participate in the development of the license terms suggested by MPEG LA for OMA DRM.

It also asserts that the Alliance is "not in a position to determine the applicability or completeness of the patent claims of the MPEG LA and its patent pool participants."

The organization also points out that as a condition of membership in OMA, the member companies have agreed to grant a non-exclusive license for OMA members and non-members to use any of their essential IPR on fair, reasonable and non- discriminatory terms.

"OMA DRM is a quality technical specification developed collaboratively by OMA member companies around the world. The industry's concerned response to MPEG LA's DRM license fee proposal highlights the industry's interest in ensuring availability of open mobile services," said Jari Alvinen, chairman of the OMA Board.

Earlier this year, the MPEG LA licensing agency unveiled a joint portfolio license covering essential patents for the OMA's digital rights management scheme.

While the Alliance's approach is designed for mobile handset applications covering a relatively limited segment of the broader digital rights landscape, industry observers viewed that announcement as the critical first step for sorting out disputes among competing DRM technologies.

Larry Horn, MPEG LA's vice president of licensing, said at the time the patent pooling announcement "addresses the patent overhang issue."

MPEG LA identified ContentGuard Holdings Inc., Intertrust Technologies Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., Philips Electronics and Sony Corp. as "an initial group" of key patent holders. They agreed to commit their technologies to the joint patent portfolio license for use in the Alliance's DRM version 1.0.

Under the proposed patent pool, MPEG LA said royalty rates for patents essential to digital rights management functionality would be $1 per device. That amount would be paid by product manufacturers. Service providers would pay 1 percent of any transaction in which users pay for digital content employing OMA's version 1.0.

That scheme, however, angered the GSM Association, suggesting the 'per device' fee touted by the MPEG LA was unreasonable and excessive, and that its members consider the 'per transaction' fee as unworkable in the market.

Reflecting what it said earlier this month was widespread operator discontent, it began a review of alternative mechanisms for DRM of wireless content.

The GSMA asked for proposals from all DRM solution providers to be submitted by April 11, and is now evaluating these ahead of creating a short-list that will in time be put to its membership.

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