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Fox and Warner Bros team up with flash memory makers for on-disk DRM

Western Digital and SanDisk sign up for scheme to "secure" content

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Two mega-media companies and two storage vendors have formed a digital rights management (DRM) collaborative to develop technology enabling consumers to back up and share content across multiple devices.

Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros and hard drive and flash memory vendors SanDisk and Western Digital said "Project Phenix" is aimed at developing software to secure high definition and other premium content for sharing.

Project Phenix is being developed by the newly formed Secure Content Storage Association (SCSA), which will create and license software to secure the copyright-protected content on local and portable hard drives, and flash memory products such as USB flash drives, SD cards and solid-state drives (SSDs).

Once the content is on 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.

Last year, the Hollywood movie studios announced an online cloud backup service to share HD content. The service, called UltraViolet, is still in the early stages; it allows consumers to purchase a DVD or digital download and then view it on any TV, computer or games console made by a participating manufacturer.

The SCSA expects to begin licensing the DRM technology for embedded drives later this year. It is expected to be compatible with UltraViolet.

"The vision for this new product is to store, play and back up in the cloud personal and professional content," said Mike Dunn, president of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. "The device renders content up to 10 times faster than over-the-top Internet. We see Project Phenix as a key component of the emerging digital ecosystem."

The latest media management collaborative is similar to one formed in December between Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, Sony, Toshiba and SanDisk. Those five companies announced that they had reached an agreement to start preparing for licensing and promotion of high definition capable security for SD Cards and embedded mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Their "Next Generation Secure Memory Initiative" will use ID technology for flash memory and copy protection based on public key infrastructure (PKI). The collaborative believes it can begin licensing the new secure memory technology early next year.

The companies are also pitching their technology development initiative as a way mobile users can share HD content on a wide range of devices, including Android-based smartphones and tablets, TVs and Blu-ray products.

The DRM technology is aimed at allowing HD content such as network downloads, broadcast content and HD digital copies from Blu-ray Disc media to be shared among devices.

"With our new secure memory solution, we are excited to create a strong link between the living room experience and the mobile experience," said Yoshiyuki Miyabe, Panasonic's CTO. "Now, consumers can enjoy watching premier content, such as movies, on the go with their smartphones and tablets."



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