The screen-shifting scene took on a purplish hue last week, as the four-letter acronym “DECE” became a brand: UltraViolet.Refresher: DECE stands for “Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem.” It’s a consortium of movie studios, digital rights management (DRM) providers, cable operators, consumerelectronics companies and retailers.
Together, this herd of 60-plus Goliaths wants to make it so that any movie you buy, no matter where you buy it, can play on any of your screens, no matter where you (or your people) are. Legally.
It’s “TV Everywhere” for movies. A digital locker for all your digital titles. Maybe you see Julie and Julia on-demand, and opt to own it. Click! Hello, “electronic sell-through,” abbreviated EST. It means you own it (which explains why cable likes DECE).
Maybe you buy it straight from your Blu-ray Disc player (which is why CE companies like it). Maybe you buy it online, then burn it to DVD (which is why packrats will like it).
The participating DRM companies (Adobe Sytems, Microsoft, and Widevine Technologies) like DECE because it needs a secure way for Consumer Jane to share her purchased titles with people within her defined “circle of trust.” Dad’s in the hospital for a few days? Dad loves John Wayne. Dad’s laptop, meet True Grit - gifted, but not re-paid for.
From Consumer Jane’s perspective, the movies she buys or downloads are hers to watch, keep, burn to DVD or stream - on whichever screen. HDTV, tablet, gadget.
The technology of it is - big surprise - software, staring with a common file format, open and interoperable across the five different DRM systems.
It won’t work without some kind of digital clearinghouse - a cloud, in essence, for consumers to access their registered titles.
Some news there, too: Tim Dodd, the longtime Time Warner Cable strategist, most recently with Warner Bros., is making the UltraViolet introductions, as freshly appointed vice president of new media and entertainment for Neustar.
Yes, Neustar - the keeper of cellphone numbers and, as a result, “number portability.” The company was named by DECE as its clearinghouse at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show; Dodd joined last month.
Dodd calls UltraViolet “a digital content clearinghouse in the cloud,” not just for registering multiple copies of a title to run across a domain of devices: “It’s also streaming to wherever you are - so you go do a digital store, take a copy onto your cell, then burn another copy at home.”
Watch for UltraViolet to emerge as a consumer brand later this year or early in 2011, under a purple-and-gray logo dubbed “UVVU” - pronounced “you view” (more at uvvu.com).
But, as the website itself says, “Ambitious undertakings like UltraViolet take time to be fully deployed in the global market.” Until then, best keep lugging the right cord for the right gadget, with the right connection to the right library, so that maybe it’ll all work and you can watch what you wanted to watch (on the screen you wanted to watch it on).