Project Canvas Sets Out its Approach to Content Protection

--Will Use Marlin DRM to Protect Premium Content

The companies behind Project Canvas--an initiative that sees 1) the BBC and the UK's other public-service broadcasters, ITV, Channel 4 and Five, 2) UK ISP's, BT and TalkTalk, and 3) UK broadcast transmission company, Arqiva, partnering in order to attempt to develop a common standard and interface for the delivery of online catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer, the ITV player and 4oD, as well as other Internet-based services (including VOD and interactive TV widgets), to broadband-connected Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes--have published information on Project Canvas's content protection strategy, which they say is designed to enable the initiative to support the widest possible range of content types for connected TV audiences. According to the Project Canvas members, they are setting out a range of content protection options, in order to give individual content providers flexibility over the level of protection they wish to adopt.

Because Project Canvas is an open platform, the members say, providers can choose to make content available with no protection, or adopt transport encryption, file encryption, device authentication or DRM. In addition, they say, conditional access upgrade will be possible for content providers that require it (note: more information is available in the technology section of the Project Canvas Web site).

For providers of premium content--including new movie releases and content requiring a subscription or download model--Project Canvas will at launch support Marlin, which has been developed over the past five years by Intertrust, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony, as its required DRM solution. The Project Canvas members say that the selection of Marlin follows widespread industry engagement with content owners, content distributors, device manufacturers and ISP's; and that this engagement led them to conclude 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, according to the Project Canvas members, has the potential to be widely adopted as part of 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," Project Canvas CTO, Anthony Rose, said in a prepared statement. "We have also considered the submissions of key industry participants into the BBC Trust approval process. Our content 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."

The Project Canvas members say that the publication of the initiative's content protection requirements adds to the technical specification documents that they have previously made available to the industry through the Digital Television Group (note: the most recent documents were released on June 30th). They plan to submit additional technical documents on July 30th and August 19th, and say that they will make available on the Project Canvas Web site by the end of July a timetable for the publication of other materials of relevance to device manufacturers, content providers and retailers, including SDK, trade mark license and retail training materials.