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AOL Time Warner Joins the ISMA

On August 29, the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA) held its third meeting in San Jose, where it introduced 11 new members, including media powerhouse AOL Time Warner.

Other new members are: Analog Devices, Dolby Laboratories, Inktomi, iVast, Lucent Technologies, NeoMagic, ObjectVideo, Sigma Design, Silicon Graphics and Streaming 21.

According to the ISMA (www.isma.tv), over 70 people representing 30 companies attended the meeting to finalize implementations to standardize streaming. The ISMA is touting MPEG-4 as the standard, mostly because the companies behind the organization (like Apple, Sun and Cisco) have a vested interest in it. The first implementation specification is expected to be released before the end of the year, says the ISMA.

Perhaps most importantly, discussions turned to digital rights management (DRM) solutions. So far, MPEG-4 doesn't have a native DRM solution, while the proprietary systems like RealNetworks and Microsoft's Windows Media both have their own competing implementations. Many analysts believe that content owners must back one DRM solution in order to successfully start making money from downloadable or streaming content. So far, Microsoft and RealNetworks have not joined the ISMA.

Meetings are open to member companies only, although members of the media are not allowed. According to representatives, that's because company officials occasionally discuss proprietary information that they don't want aired.

The ISMA was founded in December 2000 by companies like Apple, Cisco, Sun, IBM, Kasenna and Philips. The next members-only meeting will take place in January 2002.

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