Real Tests Multiformat Rights Manager


RealNetworks is beta-testing a digital-rights-management system based on the company's new Helix platform. The hook the system offers is that it breaks the DRM trend of being able to protect content produced only in one format.

"This is going to be the first major DRM for the MPEG-4 crowd," says Dan Sheeran, RealNetworks vice president, media systems.

Besides RealNetworks' formats, the system can handle MP-3, MPEG-4, H.263 and AAC, among others. According to Sheeran, the Helix DRM spec will be made available to manufacturers so that they can design players capable of playing and protecting the content.

According to Sheeran, "Until now, CE manufacturers didn't have a way to add security and participate in the world of digitally delivered content from music or movie services."

Those services, such as PressPlay or MusicNet, are restricted to the PC environment because of DRM issues. Sheeran says the Helix system will help consumers take content to other devices.

Pricing, which is handled as a license charge for Helix servers, varies from free to "a couple hundred grand," depending on the level of support.