Wishful Format Thinking?

Last week, InterTrust Technologies, which creates Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, and format developer DataPlay announced a partnership intended to create a portable media distribution platform for protected content such as music. Universal Music Group, EMI Recorded Music, and BMG Entertainment have all announced that they are planning to release prerecorded music on the resultant DataPlay digital format for use in a variety of consumer electronic devices.

Taking the MiniDisc concept a step further, DataPlay has developed a small enclosed disc that is less than 1.5" (32mm) in diameter and can hold 500MB of digital data or around 11 hours of MP3 audio files. The company says that it expects blank recordable discs to cost consumers between $5 and $10, with prerecorded discs in the $15 range.

InterTrust and DataPlay say they will create a format for secure DRM-based content storage on DataPlay digital media. Consumer electronics companies who wish to manufacture DataPlay-enabled devices—which, so far, includes Samsung, Toshiba, and SONICblue (maker of the Diamond Rio)—will then be able to license the format.

To support the DataPlay platform, InterTrust says it has developed a special version of its copy-protection technology for portable devices, along with a dedicated "packager" that places the content in a secure format. The company states that it is also adapting its PC plug-in for music players, to enable the playing and importing content from DataPlay digital media, as well as the activation of additional content that resides protected on the digital media. InterTrust adds that its system also allows retailers and distributors to activate content on the digital media and send protected content to consumers directly.

InterTrust's Talal Shamoon is clearly thinking big for the new format. He explains that "a standard for protected portable media is essential to create the CD's successor. InterTrust believes that DataPlay's position with three of the five major labels and its cutting-edge format deliver a compelling consumer entertainment experience. A ubiquitous protected format beyond the CD is the only way to conclusively halt music piracy."