Sony develops new copyright protection technology

Sony Corp. has unveiled digital rights management (DRM) technology that can protect content for use on various types of devices and allows usage conditions for content to be controlled by the distributor.

The Tokyo company hopes its new OpenMG X will accelerate the growth of digital content distribution. Content delivery services using the new technology are expected to be launched in Japan and in the U.S. soon. For example, music Web site Pressplay, co-founded by Sony, is looking at OpenMG X, Sony said in a statement released Wednesday.

OpenMG X consists of three parts. An encoding module adds DRM information to content at the distributor’s end. DRM information includes how many times and for how long that content can be played. A server module distributes this DRM information on content to users, while a third module can be used to develop applications compatible with OpenMG X.

Sony expects its OpenMG X technology will be adopted in a variety of products, such as mobile phones, portable audio players and PlayStation 2 game consoles. However, what kind of OpenMG X-compatible devices will come out and when has not been decided yet, said Tsuyoshi Sakaguchi, a Sony spokesman.

Sony already put OpenMG X into practice for its Magiqlip software, a music player for PCs. Users can download and play music that is encrypted and distributed using OpenMG X technology. A company called Label Gate Co. Ltd. will soon start a music distribution service compatible with Magiqlip, Sony said.

Sony already incorporates various copyright protection technologies, such as MagicGate, the OpenMG Jukebox and OpenMG Light, in its products.

MagicGate, developed in 1999, prevents illegal copies being made when digital content is transferred from a PC to an audio player using a Sony Memory Stick flash memory card. OpenMG Jukebox restricts copying of of music on Sony’s Vaio PCs and portable audio devices. And Sony’s OpenMG Light is a DRM system for mobile phones that can receive music via the Internet.