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
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).