Strangely, it feels like DRM
is getting a second wind. When Apple announced that the iTunes
Music Store would go DRM-free, the world took notice. A few years later, DRM is creeping back, and we suspect this wave will be harder to stop. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, SanDisk and Western Digital have all aligned on one thing: DRM, or piracy protection. The working title of the group is Project Phenix, and it's described as an initiative that will give consumers an easier and faster way to organize, store and move their high definition digital movies and TV shows – including new releases in up to full 1080p quality - across multiple devices. In addition to local storage, the content will also be backed up via the UltraViolet industry standard as well as other cloud-based services. That's a really nice way of saying: "Get ready for more crap to deal with when trying to legally buy, play back and transfer media."
The project is being developed by the newly formed Secure Content Storage Association (SCSA). Established as an LLC, this coalition will create and license solutions that secure high definition and other premium copyright-protected content on local and portable hard drives, and flash memory products such as USB flash drives, SD cards and solid state disk drives (SSDs). Once content is downloaded to a hard drive or flash memory product, it could then be accessed, online or offline, on any SCSA-enabled device such as a connected TV, laptop, Blu-ray™ player, tablet, mobile phone or game console. The optimized content will be made easily available for purchase via digital download, digital files bundled with physical media, kiosks in retail stores, or other means of secure digital delivery.
"The SCSA will provide consumers with a digital solution for movies and TV shows that is as simple to use as DVD and Blu-ray discs," said Bert Hesselink, CTO of Western Digital Branded Products. "The SCSA solution will allow the consumer to store high definition purchased content, including copies of certain DVD content, in a secure, consumer-owned digital home library on a hard drive, along with their personal photos, music, and videos. Digital library content can be easily viewed inside the home on a TV, PC or tablet, or when owners are on the move with a portable library copy, providing mobile viewing even when a reliable Internet connection is not available, such as a plane, car, train or remote location."
Will it take off? Will it be rejected? Only time will tell, but as more and more people shift from physical media, we doubt these kind of projects will just fade away without first putting up a fight.