Microsoft Corp. and Xerox will collaborate with ContentGuard on key digital-rights-management (DRM) technologies. The three companies will work to improve the distribution of premium digital content, including e-books, documents, music, and video over the Internet, while protecting against unauthorized usage or redistribution. Microsoft has also joined Xerox as a shareholder in ContentGuard.
To accelerate market growth, ContentGuard is announcing the royalty-free licensing of its eXtensible rights Markup Language (XrML). This initiative has already received support from 20 industry leaders, including Adobe Systems, Inc.; Barnes & Noble; Glassbook, Inc.; Hewlett-Packard Co.; Lightning Printing, Inc.; Microsoft; Preview Systems; Reciprocal, Inc.; Softlock.com, Inc.; Time Warner Trade Publishing; Thomson Publishing; and Xerox.
“We believe that rights management will become a ubiquitous element of all content exchange, whether for secure e-commerce or for ensuring the persistent protection of high-value sensitive information,” said Ranjit Singh, president and COO of ContentGuard.
“Content wants to be free, but content creators want to get paid,” said Dick Brass, vice president of technology development at Microsoft and co-chairman of ContentGuard. “ContentGuard’s approach to DRM will give consumers greater choices and options for how they purchase and enjoy digital content, while also giving content creators a powerful set of tools for protecting and distributing their works.”
Microsoft Reader, a new software product for displaying e-books, will be the first Microsoft product to incorporate the ContentGuard technology when it debuts this summer. According to the announcement, ContentGuard technology will also enhance future releases of Windows Media Player and Windows Media Rights Manager.
“Controlling intellectual property is a major problem facing companies who are moving their business to the Internet. While there have been a limited number of solutions available to address this issue, this is the first time that two major companies such as Xerox and Microsoft have partnered to bring digital rights management to the masses,” said Alan Weintraub, research director of GartnerGroup.
The ContentGuard portfolio includes the ContentGuard Internet content protection software suite and the electronic Publishing Clearing Service (ePCS), which is offered jointly with Reciprocal, Inc. The ePCS has customers in the publishing industry, including Aberdeen Group; Bell & Howell Information and Learning; and Bedford, Freeman and Worth Publishing. According to the announcement, ContentGuard’s agreement with Microsoft ensures it an immediate presence in the e-book space. The company will expand into other digital content areas, including rich media and corporate information.
“We have enjoyed our partnership with ContentGuard, Inc. and we endorse and support the XrML standards drive,” said John Schwarz, president and CEO of Re-ciprocal. “We’re thrilled to see other industry leaders responding favorably to this important initiative that will facilitate the management of rights across multiple DRM formats. The XrML standard complements Reciprocal’s back-office DRM services, and together we’ll play a significant role in reducing barriers to entry for content owners. This will translate into better user experiences and help accelerate the growth of the digital content market.”
XrML is an open-industry-standard specification for the association of rights (such as access fees and usage conditions) with content. By licensing XrML on a royalty-free basis, ContentGuard, Inc. is promoting the seamless interoperability of digital rights specifications among authors, artists, publishers, distributors, and retailers. XrML allows content owners unique flexibility in terms of business model and usage options, and has been enhanced based on contributions from partners that include Microsoft. In addition, Microsoft has added support for ContentGuard’s innovative XrML in the upcoming release of its DRM technology for e-books and will increase support for XrML in future implementations of its DRM technology for digital media.
Detailed information about XrML, as well as the full list of XrML supporters and their comments on this initiative, can be found at the XrML Web site (http://www.xrml.org).
Source: ContentGuard, Inc., McLean, VA, 800/870-0705; http://www.contentguard.com.
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