Open DRM architecture
Eurescom project OPERA
New electronic distribution channels for content, offer new service types for customers and provide new business opportunities for content providers. However the acceptance of these new distribution channels depends on robust mechanisms to protect the interests of the various stakeholders in the value chain. These mechanisms are known as Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM must fulfil a number of requirements in order to meet the needs of the stakeholders in the industry and keep up with the expectations of the customers. This paper describes an open DRM architecture, which supports interoperability of DRM technologies.
Digital rights management refers to the control and protection of digital intellectual property, including documents, images, video and audio. DRM limits what a user can do with the content he bought. To date, several proprietary DRM systems are on the market, and so far nobody can safely predict, which of them will become a standard. This situation has already led to some products on the market, addressing the DRM interoperability issue. DRM frameworks are used to ‘translate’ between different DRM systems by:
As a compromise, common DRM frameworks only synchronise the content between different DRM systems and operate the underlying DRM systems in parallel, to give the user the opportunity to play the content with the media player of choice. Consequently, they do not add any functionality to the underlying DRM systems and still have the same restrictions as the underlying DRM systems.
The Eurescom project OPERA (P1207) is specifying and prototyping an open DRM architecture, enabling the interoperability between different DRM systems. The OPERA architecture adds two additional capabilities to common DRM frameworks:
OPERA directly integrates major DRM systems and uses already available DRM frameworks. On top of these technologies the OPERA license management system supports the following concepts:
This means that the system distinguishes between licensees of the underlying DRM systems and ‘OPERA licenses’. While the OPERA licenses support several usage rules, OPERA itself needs only a ‘play-once’ license from the underlying DRM systems. The advantages of this approach are:
The open DRM architecture aims at standardised interfaces and processes so that interoperability of DRM systems can be achieved. In addition to the focus being on interoperability, the OPERA system also ensures that several usage scenarios are supported by the system in spite of the fact that each underlying DRM system may not support all the usage scenarios. The goal is to achieve a user-based content registration system, which integrates the major DRM systems and frameworks. OPERA uses available technologies and adds its own license management system on top of them. The OPERA license management system – referred to as the OPERA server – is able to assign content to a user, who is registered in the system, and manage a range of usage rules. The OPERA server can provide any level of complex business model independent of the usage models supported by the underlying DRM systems.
The main components of the system are depicted in figure 1.
Figure 1 System overview
The OPERA architecture describes a system that enables interoperable digital rights management. The OPERA server and OPERA proxy mediate between multiple available DRM systems. The value of the architecture to service providers and network operators is that the components of the architecture have well defined and open interfaces. Hence, DRM system information and usage information is accessible to these service providers and operators. This is a significant departure from the current state where such information is not easily accessible. The OPERA architecture also provides a roadmap for the integration of different DRM systems. This could also facilitate the integration of emerging DRM solutions based on open standards into the OPERA system.
More information about the project can be found at: www.eurescom.de/public/projects/P1200-series/p1207/
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