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Consortium rolls out platform-agnostic movie locker

Consortium rolls out platform-agnostic movie locker

A group of media and electronics companies will soon start testing a system that will let you watch the movies you buy wherever you are, regardless of formats and other technical hurdles. Like ATMs, your account would follow you, no matter what brand of machine you use.

The group has also come up with a name for the open standard it is creating, which it was unveiling Tuesday: UltraViolet.

The open standard backed by movie studios including Warner Bros. and technology companies such as Microsoft Corp. represents a challenge to proprietary formats from Apple Inc. and others. Those formats lock buyers of video content to limited numbers of devices, such as the iPad or Apple TV.

Backers of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem hope to kickstart growth of digital movie purchases, now just 4 percent of all sales, by freeing consumers of format concerns.

That would mirror the way that the use of automated teller machines exploded once all banks cooperated in processing transactions, said Mitch Singer, the chief technology officer for Sony Pictures Entertainment and president of the consortium, the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem.

The concept is to create a digital locker that stores tokens that are proofs of purchase of DVDs, Blu-ray discs and movie downloads. When a consumer buys a movie online or at a store, he can watch it anywhere else, including on any mobile device or TV set without the hassle of copying his personal files.

The UltraViolet brand is meant to evoke the platform’s invisible presence, and transcendence across numerous devices.

“It’s outside the visible spectrum, but it’s all around you and it’s ubiquitous,” Singer said.

Specifications for a proposed common file format will be released soon, and testing of the system with an unnamed retailer will begin by the end of the year, Singer said.


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Stuart Davidson

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