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Tech News (more headlines) 03-09-2003

Light Weight Digital Rights Management LWDRM

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Digital Rights Management (DRM) Systems are expected to become an integral part of future electronic music distribution. To meet the increasing requirements the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Telecooperation SIT in Darmstadt and the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Erlangen and Ilmenau developed the so-called Light Weight Digital Rights Management System (LWDRM). The system provides the environment to meet the consumer needs for easy system handling with little restriction as well as the demands of the content providers for security.

Most current DRM systems constrict consumer-friendly handling of audio-visual content thus impeding an introduction of DRM systems into the mass market. The basic idea of LWDRM is to allow content copying if the user is willing to autograph the purchased content with his personal digital signature. Therefore, the user's identity must once be registered with a Certification Authority (CA). The personal signature has been common and accepted practice in the area of print media for years, now being adapted to LWDRM for the handling of audio-visual content data.

The user is allowed to transfer content to portable devices or to family and friends, adhering to the prevalent legislation and the rules of fair use.

However, if content leaks out to the general public, e.g. through open file sharing systems, it can easily be traced back to its origin by analyzing the embedded digital signature. Adequate security is guaranteed by state-of-the-art encryption methods like the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and the Fraunhofer IIS watermarking technology.

It is well known that the majority of users are reluctant to register with an electronic system trying to avoid persistent surveillance. For this reason LWDRM offers a step-by-step approach, which allows the user to benefit from the system even without registration. These benefits include excellent audio and video quality, streaming capabilities and new multimedia features. Once contents are transferred to a third party prior registration is required. Our implementation enables DRM-protected MPEG-4 streaming using MPEG-4 Video Simple Profile and MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding. First implementations have been available since 2002.  

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