Consortium of Studios, Manufacturers Throws Weight Behind UltraViolet Management System


LAS VEGAS -- A consortium from Hollywood is throwing its weight behind the CES launch of UltraViolet, a cloud-based, digital-rights management system that would essentially create an online virtual library for each consumer.

UltraViolet -- developed by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, a consortium of more than 60 leading companies including Hollywood studios and manufacturers -- will begin its U.S. rollout in mid-2011, then expand to the U.K. and Canada.

"We are changing the way consumers collect and own content," said Mitch Singer, DECE president and CTO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, explaining that UltraViolet will essentially allow a consumer to buy once, and watch wherever and whenever, when using a supported device, app or service.

Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony, Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. announced that they will begin offering UltraViolet content this year through digital online retailers and digital rights that come with packaged media.

Meanwhile, Akamai Technologies is demonstrating a prototype for delivering content with the UltraViolet system at its CES exhibit.

At the confab, DECE also announced that Akamai, ARRIS, Arxan Technologies, BSkyB, Dell, Fanhattan, Fujitsu and QuickPlay Media are its newest member companies. Apple and Disney remain absent from the list.

"I'm very confident that we will be able to stream on Apple devices (such as the iPad)," Singer said, noting that content could be made available via UltraViolet-supported apps or services. ITunes, however, would not support UltraViolet at this point.

Through the UltraViolet system, each household will be able to create an account for up to six members who can access the household's content, and it will be able to register up to 12 devices so UltraViolet content can be downloaded to those devices or shared among them. UltraViolet also will provide streaming access and enable retailers to provide consumers with a DVD or other physical media copy.