The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) has branded their system of “Universal DRM”, which was first announced at CES 2010, calling the technology UltraViolet. The system is designed to allow consumers the ability to view purchased movies wherever, whenever, over multiple platforms and formats.
The DECE is a group of nearly 60 movie, distribution, and technology companies, including Sony Pictures, Adobe, Cisco, Warner Bros, and Microsoft. Together they plan to launch and promote UltraViolet, a cloud-based DRM system they have dubbed a “digital movie locker system”.
The concept of UltraViolet is to give those who purchase movies a “token” that will represent their ownership of that film and prevent them from having to purchase again to view it on another platform. For example, if you purchase a video on DVD your token would allow you to be able to view the film via your Netflix subscription at no additional charge.
Another benefit of the system could be the ability to switch digital video services seamlessly. Currently, if you close an account with a particular service all purchases, ratings, and preferences are lost. In the future it may be possible to switch among DECE partner services and retain all of the data you have amassed in your account.
While UltraViolet sounds great in theory, it is still far from being a standard. Neither Apple nor Disney are on board with the DECE yet, and both are working on their own video DRM systems. Also, this is something that has already been attempted several times in the music industry, and has yet to find success.
A beta test, which should definitely give us a better indication of the potential success of UltraViolet, is scheduled to begin this fall, with licensing details available by the end of the year.
I would definitely like to see something like this succeed, but I’m very skeptical. My wish would be for a truly universal system to allow consumers to purchase video or audio content only one time and have it play on any device. With major players like Disney and Apple still doing their own thing, the likelihood of such a thing happening any time soon is not promising.