Mobile Operators Fight DRM Corner

The Register has run a piece over the current fight between the mobile industry (represented by GSMA) and the DRM industry (personfied by MPEG LA) over the appropriate license fees for mobile DRM technology. The crux of the argument is that the GSM Association doesn’t have a leg to stand on and the only reason the mobile industry won’t be bent over a barrel is because the patent holders — MPEG LA — want to be friends.
“One of the key elements here is that patent rulings outside of the US mostly rely on when a patent application is filed for that territory, and not on when the technology was invented. So if Intertrust or ContentGuard didn’t file for a patent in somewhere like Australia, before a local supplier, then it may have trouble filing suit against that supplier, even if it invented the technology first…In fact, it was the misguided representations of the Open Mobile Alliance, that used this fact about international patents to fool themselves into thinking that their clients would not have to pay very much at all for the technology behind DRM.”
“Faultline initially broke this story when talking to the CEO of ContentGuard back in January. ContentGuard CEO Mike Miron, told us: “The OMA didn’t choose to use our technology for implementing its Digital Rights Language for OMA 1.0, and instead chose to use a system developed by IPR systems in Australia. We told them that this wouldn’t mean that they could escape our patent portfolio and we’ve been telling them that all along. It shouldn’t be a surprise that suddenly the MPEG LA has issued a joint patent covering OMA DRM 1.0, but OMA has been strongly suggesting to its members that its standard would be royalty free.”
The article comes down fairly heavily on the side of MPEG LA, and states the matter could have been solved more quickly and amicably if OMA had created the standard in consultation with the patent holders in the first place. It’s true that even the reduced licensing scheme would be one of the most profitable royalty payments ever, but it’s also true that mobile content is shaping up to be a massive new business in a few years. And since mobile operators and large content providers want to keep absolute control over what you do with the content you buy on your phone they need digital rights management technology…the alternative is to allow consumers to use the content they purchase however they see fit.
Related stories:
MMCA, OMA Sign Agreement On Removable Media
Open Mobile Alliance Distinguishes Itself From DRM Patent Pool
Towards Universal DRM