updated 11:30 am EST, Fri February 9, 2007
Coral Consortium to Jobs
The Coral Consortium today announced that it has posted a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs in response to his open letter dated February 6th, which detailed Apple's 'wholehearted' support for DRM-free music. The Coral Consortium's letter points out DRM interoperability as a fourth alternative to the three listed by Jobs, and suggests that the best way to achieve a truly consumer-friendly interoperable digital distribution marketplace is for Apple and other key players to join with the existing members of the Coral Consortium to deploy a DRM interoperability solution. The consortium seeks to ensure that digital music and video is easily accessible from any service provider and on any device via a new technology that allows existing DRM solutions to co-exist, promoting content as well as devices that work together. The result, if realized, would enable any portable media player to play any track purchased from any online music store. [updated]
Current members of the Coral Consortium include the big four music labels -- EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group -- as well as the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The consortium has also recruited the Motion Picture Association of America, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Time Warner Cable, Twentieth Century Fox Film, and Warner Bros. Technical Operations.
In its letter, the consortium writes to Jobs: "The directors of Coral Consortium were pleased to hear about your interest in interoperability. We agree with you that this is a big problem for consumers. They should be able to acquire content from a wide variety of competitive service providers and play their purchased content on a range of devices and platforms from different manufacturers. This is an issue that is very important to our membership."
The Coral Consortium claims it has wrestled with the issues around interoperability for some years and that the problem is in fact business related, adding that it has completed the development of a suite of technical specifications for interoperability which are readily available for download from its website.
"We think that [Apple's] engineers will find it very straightforward to integrate this framework into your iTunes service. This technology would enable you to interoperate immediately with Microsoft based Janus devices and services, and with OMA (Open Mobile Alliance) based devices and services. Of course the secrets in Fairplay remain safe - adopting the Coral technology does not require you to share them with anyone else."
The technology addresses music as well as video, stressing the importance of protecting film assets alongside music catalogs from illegal piracy while expanding the availability of legal content. The consortium's letter also addresses potential concerns over content provider worries by noting that many parts of the content industry were involved in the development of its specifications.
"We offer Apple, Inc. a warm invitation to join Coral's ranks and help provide interoperability and the increased choice that will bring to all of our customers."