The Digital Media Manifesto



K. Nakamura


Comments on Complete draft of Digital Media Manifesto




Text commented is in italc

3.2.1. Interoperable DRM platforms

5C-DTCP is the technology for link encryption, and it separately works with DRM system.

3.2.2. Interoperable end-user devices

Traditionally end user devices have been both media and delivery specific. Different devices are needed to view a TV program coming via OTA broadcast or via a VHS cassette recorder, even if it is the same TV signal that the device has to deal with. On the other hand the same device might be used to watch or listen to programs from different sources, i.e. the receiving device is not content or service provider specific. This was true even at the time there were two video cassette recording standards (VHS and Beta), because content, e.g. a movie, was typically available on both formats.

DRM system has been growing with the progress of audio-visual entertainment services. The beginning of this progress was the BETA lawsuit when end user device manufacturer gain the user's right to enjoy the time-shifted TV program.

First generation DRM system for end-user devices is "copy generation management system". This technology is basically used with another technologies like encryption or rendering control.

Second generation is "conditional access system" for viewing control. It is not used for copy control but PPV (pay per view) services.

The third generation is "Media bind" just like DVDCCA or CPRM. No one imagined that CD would be used with CD-ROM drive for PCs, and it causes to the CD ripping. Media bind technologies are developed to suffer the bit by bit copy by PCs.

The fourth generation is "Network bind" like Smartright. This technology makes it possible to enjoy the home-networked devices.

Now the fifth generation technologies are under development for IP network. End user devices need the interoperable DRM system because there DRM systems are used over Internet. And these DRM systems are also up-gradable, so end-user devices also need the interoperable DRM systems.

Subsequently there have been other significant departures. While the CATV industry simply continued their practice of providing special (digital, this time) STBs to their subscribers, Service Providers of satellite pay TV services required that their subscribers use special STBs capable of decrypting content that are commonly rented rather than purchased or otherwise provided. Also newer services, such as PVR, also require that the user acquires special devices to enjoy the service.

In a sense DM has brought no major conceptual difference to the practices of the analogue age. However, there is a major practical difference when it comes to devices for the mass market and devices for nascent fragmented DM markets. Prices of the former are brought down by broad competition, e.g. very few tens of $/? for a low-end CD or DVD player. Prices of the latter nascent market, however, remain high, e.g. a digital pay TV STB costs roughly one order of magnitude more than their analogue equivalent. To be in some DM businesses is therefore a much more costly adventure but with the upside that it is easier to make one's subscribers more impervious to competing offers, because of the sheer size of investments required. However, this model still has to prove that it is economically viable. Indeed only pay TV Service Providers operating in monopolistic conditions are in the black. In a country like Italy two competing operators, after having been in the red for years, have decided to merge, thus creating a monopoly of pay TV in the country. On the other hand the UK government assigned two DTT licenses to two competing operators who subsequently merged and eventually the merged company - ITV Digital - still went bankrupt.

Digital contents are basically intensive, so the efficient of invest is related to the number of subscribers. These service providers have been competing each other to acquire many subscribers. Telecast fee of the killer contents is suddenly rising and finally service providers went bankrupt even though digital contents are intensive.