DECE Consortium Launches to Offer ‘Buy Once, Play Anywhere’ Video

Legally purchasing and downloading a movie online is proving a much easier endeavor than viewing it on any given device these days.

In an effort to test Apple's dominance over the digital media distribution market and simultaneously combat piracy, many movie studios have partnered with retailers such as Best Buy and consumer electronics companies like Sony, Intel, Microsoft and Philips to revamp the movie download-to-own experience.

The consortium known as the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem launched officially on Friday of last week and is attempting to make videos purchased through any portal viewable on a number of devices worldwide. Hollywood is hoping that in addition to thwarting piracy, this move will liberate people from Digital Rights Management (DRM), which only allows millions to play their digital files on a few, specific mobile devices.

Spearheading the project is Mitch Singer, CTO of Sony Pictures since 2006. The goal is to not only allow purchased video content to play seamlessly on any device or screen that the buyer owns, but to allow access to a "virtual library" of purchased content, accessible from anywhere on the Internet. According to Singer, video should become a "buy once, play anywhere" technology like CDs and DVDs.

Despite the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem's lofty aspirations, everything seems to be pretty far down the road. With no specs in place, consumers may not see working products for at least a year or longer. Not only will video stores need to adopt the technology, electronic corporations will have to implement it, movie studios will have to support it and consumers will have to purchase all the necessary equipment.

The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem consists of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Fox Entertainment Group, NBC Universal, Sony, Paramount Pictures and Comcast Corp., with Best Buy representing the retailers section and Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Philips, Intel, Toshiba and Verisign offering the hardware platforms. Currently, Disney Studios, one of Apple's primary partners, has not joined the consortium.