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Macrovision boss responds to DRM debate

February 19, 2007

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Fred Amoroso, CEO and president of Macrovision, has published a response to Steve Jobs’ comments on Digital Rights Management (DRM) on his company’s website, as an open letter where he suggests, among other things, that Macrovision take over stewardship of Apple’s own DRM technology.

Amoroso’s company develops DRM technology that is widely used in commercial DVDs. It also develops DRM for commercial software publishers and other content creators.

When Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs posted a letter in the Apple’s website suggesting the company would drop DRM from its iTunes Store offerings if major record labels were to agree, there were many quick reactions from the music industry. Among them was Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr whocalled Jobs’ anti-DRM stance “without logic” and suggesting to investors that any “manifestos in advance” of discussions between the companies “is counter-productive”.

Amoroso’s letter addresses what he considers to be four key points: that DRM has a broad impact across many types of content, not just music; that DRM “increases not decreases consumer value”; that it will increase electronic distribution; and that DRM needs to be interoperable and open.

Amoroso calls DRM “an important enabler across all content, including movies, games and software, as well as music”.

“I believe that most piracy occurs because the technology available today has not yet been widely deployed to make DRM-protected legitimate content as easily accessible and convenient as unprotected illegitimate content is to consumers,” he said. The solution, Amoroso believes, is to make DRM-protected content more convenient, reasonable, consistent and transparent to use.

“For example, DRM is uniquely suitable for metreing usage rights, so that consumers who don’t want to own content, such as a movie, can “rent” it. Similarly, consumers who want to consume content on only a single device can pay less than those who want to use it across all of their entertainment areas — vacation homes, cars, different devices and remotely,” Amoroso said.

Amoroso believes the industry should pursue as a goal “truly interoperable DRM”.

“Truly interoperable DRM will hasten the shift to the electronic distribution of content and make it easier for consumers to manage and share content in the home — and it will enable it in an open environment where their content is portable across a number of devices, not held hostage to just one company’s products,” he added.

Amoroso closed his letter by suggesting that Macrovision “assume responsibility for FairPlay,” the DRM technology Apple uses for content purchased through the iTunes Store, “as a part of our evolving DRM offering and enable it to interoperate across other DRMs, thus increasing consumer choice and driving commonality across devices.”

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