Project Canvas reveals content protection strategy

8 Jul 2010

The consortium behind an ambitious plan to merge the web with TV, which includes the BBC, ITV and other prominent broadcasters, has revealed its content protection strategy to support the widest possible range of content types for internet-connected TV audiences.

The requirements set out a range of content protection options to give individual content providers flexibility over the level of protection they wish to adopt and consumers the widest range of content.

As an open platform, providers can choose to make content available with no protection at all, or adopt transport encryption, file encryption, device authentication, or digital rights management (DRM). Conditional Access upgrade will also be possible for those who require it. Further detail is available in the technology section on the Project Canvas website.

For providers of premium content, such as the latest movie releases, or those requiring a subscription or download model, Canvas will support Marlin as the required DRM solution, at launch, which has been developed over the past five years by Intertrust, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony.

A beneficial DRM solution

The selection of Marlin follows widespread industry engagement with content owners, content distributors, device manufacturers and internet service providers, from which it was concluded that a common DRM solution present on all devices at launch and widely supported by content providers would benefit all industry participants. Marlin is referenced in Release 1 of the Open IPTV Forum specifications and therefore has the potential to be widely adopted as a part of internet-connected TV device deployments worldwide.

“Project Canvas has worked hard to account for the needs of all industry participants and ensure a rich and diverse TV viewing experience for consumers,” explained Anthony Rose, chief technology officer, Project Canvas.

“We have also considered the submissions of key industry participants into the BBC Trust approval process.”

Project Canvas says protection requirements have to cater for the widest possible number of content providers, including giving reassurance to those looking to support pay per view and subscription access to film.

The industry is looking for a fully supported DRM solution, and Marlin will give content providers the best option at launch. Marlin is based on open standards, is already widely supported and is being increasingly deployed by the industry.”

Project Canvas documents

The publication of the Project Canvas Content Protection requirements add to the technical specification documents already made available to industry through the Digital Television Group (DTG) with the most recent documents released on 30 June. In line with its timetable, Project Canvas plans to submit further technical documents on 30 July and 19 August.

Aside from the technical documents released via the DTG, a timetable for the publication of other materials of relevance to consumer device manufacturers, content providers and retailers (eg, software development kit, trademark licenses and retail training materials) will be made available on the Project Canvas web site by end July.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years