Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Metro Coding: Technology Enforces Market Strategies

Yesterday Fox and IBM unveiled a technology that is aimed at keeping television content within a certain area and of the internet: metro coding.
[Metro coding is] a technology that uses a digital signal's transport-stream identification, or TSID, to determine the market area targeted by the broadcaster. Once the market is determined, the technology prevents content from being played on any device outside of that area.
Metro coding is not even about copy(right) protection per se, but about coding market strategies into technology. It seems to seal of local markets in order to ensure differentiated revenue streams, for example through syndication. Locking down content in the home network, in a metropolitan area and prevent extra-local distribution through the internet keeps the rest of the world fresh to plough.

This metro coding is reminiscent of the broadcast flag, a DRM scheme seeks to guarantee the secure distribution of digital over-the-air content. Of course this security cannot be guaranteed, even if the Federal Communication Commission tries so by mandating DRM technology. Interestingly enough an IBM research manager says that "In order for (this technology) to be successful, it has to be broadly available within consumer-electronic devices." That is, unless the implementation of metro coding technology in consumer hardware is mandated like the broadcast flag, content will still go global. I can't imagine that consumer electronic manufacturers will do so voluntarily. The broadcast flag has proven to be a bitter challenge, and, with a pending lawsuit over the FCC's authority to mandate, it is still unclear if it will actually rise to the sky this summer.
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Related: Short Article on the (main arguments against the) Broadcast Flag
Cross-posting with the INDICARE Blog

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