RealNetworks launches XMCL initiative

The open standard is aimed at providing a common basis for businesses to deal with digital content, irrespective of what technologies are involved in its production or distribution. Companies already supporting the initiative include Bertelsmann, EMI, MGM, BTOpenworld, Adobe, InterTrust, IBM, Sun and Sony.

Rob Glaser, RealNetworks chairman and CEO, said: "The support and uptake of this so far has been beyond our reasonable expectation! There simply has not been a standard interface between content and Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies before – we will be submitting this language to the W3C imminently."

Currently, digital media commerce requires the integration of DRM systems with a range of widely differing proprietary/legacy back-end systems, such as e-commerce/asset management and CRM. However, there is no current method of determining the business rule (such as how many times a piece of content can be played per payment) concerning each piece of content once this task is complete. XMCL, if widely adopted, stands some chance of resolving this problem, although a similar standardisation effort concerning ebXML (enterprise business XML) framework last year has yet to bear fruit.

Simultaneously, Realnetworks has partnered with BBC Technology to enable content producer and rights holder BBC clients to transmit digital media via RealSystem iQ, a platform that apparently allows media delivery in around 50 formats.

BBC Technology launched in March, hoping to exploit the commercial potential of in-house technological expertise and to help meet the government’s challenge to the BBC - to raise £1.1bn through increased revenue by 2006.

Real claim to have over 200m registered users of RealPlayer, with more than 40m in Europe, although not all of these accounts are currently active.

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