Sony is definitely getting all of its DRM ducks in order. First there was the recent co-purchase (with Philips) of InterTrust. Now, Sony has licensed all current and future patents of ContentGuard.
ContentGuard is a subsidiary of Xerox, with Microsoft as a minority stakeholder. They have several key patents covering DRM systems and digital rights languages, and a DRML (my obvious shorthand for Digital Rights Markup Language) called XrML.
DRMLs allow you to specifiy digital rights for content and services, and are generally implemented in XML. There are lots of DRMLs, including XMCL (eXtensible Media Commerce Language, currently used by RealNetworks), MPEG REL (Rights Expression Language) and RDD (Rights Data Dictionary), 2RDD (Rights Data Dictionary, backed by the MPAA and RIAA) and ODRL (Open Digital Rights Language).
This development supports the prediction I made during my DV Expo presentation at a year ago — that XrML is going to be the most popular DRML by far, and possibly the only one that will matter by 2005. I think that the most interesting thing I realized while preparing that presentation was that DRMLs make the DRM irrelevant, as long as the DRM supports the rights specified in the DRML. | InformationWeek story | ContentGuard press release | XrML