RealNetworks, the folks behind RealPlayer, have a new product it says will help entertainment firms manage and track use of their copyrighted material on new online services they’ll soon roll out.
RealNetworks and other companies have announced the eXtensible Media Commerce Language (XMCL) initiative, an open XML-based language designed to establish industry-wide standards for Internet media commerce. By standardizing the language for business rules, XMCL will enable content to be played in a way that’s independent of codecs, digital rights management systems, and e-commerce systems, according to Rob Glaser, RealNetworks CEO.
XMCL will greatly simplify deployment and accelerate the market for digital media commerce over the Internet, he said. RealNetworks intends to submit the XMCL proposal to the appropriate standards organization, and will purportedly work with other companies to ensure the initiative evolves into a widely accepted standard.
“The digital media market is growing fast, with incredible breakthroughs in both technology and the quality of content that is being made available,” Glaser said during a keynote address at Streaming Media West, an Internet media industry conference. “Now is the time to unleash the true commercial potential of the medium by establishing standard business rules for secure digital distribution. With the XMCL Initiative, RealNetworks and its partners are stepping up today to help define the standards that will drive this exciting market.”
Currently, digital media commerce requires the integration of rights management systems with proprietary, often incompatible, back-end systems such as e-commerce management, customer relationship management, and asset management, he said. In order to create interoperable digital commerce, including cross-system rights management, rights holders and retailers need a set of standard business rules to define the parameters of media usage — for example, establishing that a piece of content be viewed a certain number of times per payment.
The XMCL Initiative proposes a standard business rule definition language providing rights holders the ability to take existing media business models — such as purchase, rental, video-on-demand, and subscription services — and deploy them on the Internet to generate new commerce opportunities. XMCL will give rights holders the freedom to use multiple back-end systems that interoperate with rights management solutions under a common interchange language, Glaser said.
The XMCL Initiative has been officially endorsed by such companies as Abril Group, Accenture, Adobe Systems, Anystream, America Online, Artesia Technologies, Avid Technology, Bertelsmann, British Telecom’s BTopenworld, EMI Recorded Music, eMotion, IBM, MGM, Napster, Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment, Starz Encore Group, and Sun Microsystems.
RealNetworks also unveiled an initiative to standardize the delivery of content via the Web in a secure and profitable way. The RealSystem Media Commerce Suite is designed to be a commerce solution available for the secure licensing and delivery of digital media. The RealSystem Media Commerce Suite includes products and services for secure media packaging, license generation and high-quality content delivery to a trusted media player base across all major platforms (including the Mac).
Built on RealSystem iQ, the RealSystem Media Commerce Suite enables rights holders to distribute movies, music and other digital content to over 200 million RealPlayer users. RealSystem iQ is an end-to-end, standards-based, OS-independent, network media delivery system.
The RealSystem Media Commerce Suite will provide the security for MusicNet, the online music subscription service from AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann, EMI and RealNetworks scheduled for release later this year.
RealSystem iQ is designed to broadcast, transport, and deliver the quality of RealAudio and RealVideo as well as media formats including: QuickTime, MP3, Flash and over 45 other media formats via RealSystem’s extensible architecture. RealSystem iQ operates at multiple levels to reliably deliver both live and on-demand media and eliminate congestion in the “middle of the network.”
RealNetwork’s moves mark what analysts said was the company’s boldest move yet to tackle a major strength of competing technology by Microsoft, according to a Reuters
“Generally, what RealNetworks is doing here is quite clever,” Mark Mooradian, an analyst with Internet research firm Jupiter Media Metrix, told Reuters. “This whole XMCL initiative on the surface appears to fill a real need in the audio and video space, but implicitly it’s kind of a jab at Microsoft and an attempt to get the rest of the industry to rally behind the general architecture that Real is proposing as opposed to Microsoft.”
Companies like computing giants Sun Microsystems and IBM are backing Real’s efforts, particularly the proposed XMCL standard.
“They’re trying to get allies on board so that Microsoft has to fight a much more multi-faceted battle,” Mooradian said. ”They are all people who want to participate in parts of the process. Real is clearly using this kind of initiative to shore up the troops and effectively make the audio and video battle one that is much more encompassing.”