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August 05, 2003

An open way to be closed...

From Steve Mirsky's lighthearted column in last month's Scientific American...

True or False:   In April the CIA decided to classify a report on a January session in which microbiologists and the CIA's strategic assessment group discussed scientific openness.
True. That popping sound was your head exploding.

What does this have to do with streaming?  Nothing, but it's what came to mind when I read about the OpenIPMP initiative, an
Open Intellectual Property Management and Protection effort from ObjectLab.  At first it appears to be a contradiction in terms - an open way to lock down content.  But then, what it really is is a way to lock down content that keeps control of the content-protection technology out of the hands of a single vendor.  You might imagine (if you really stretch) a vendor taking advantage of a monopoly position on content distribution to exert inordinate influence in every aspect of the media business.  ObjectLab describes their effort like this:

Open IPMP offers content owners protection, rights management, and persistent association of certified meta data of their media assets. ... Objectlab does not force-feed its clients proprietary software or confuse the industry with another turn-key DRM solution. Because we adhere to MPEG standards, use an Open Source toolset and deliver finished software and source-code to our client,  the content owners -- not the technologists -- control distribution. And in a networked economy, to control distribution is to control content.

They appear to be doing all the right things - MPEG4, ISMA, MPEG-REL, etc. I'm curious about who is funding the effort, though.

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