The Digital Media Project
The WIM TV trial at Beijing Olympics
The WIM TV trial at Beijing Olympics
Ever heard of copyright, copyright exception, public domain, digital media, digital rights management, creative commons, long tail, user generated content etc.? If the answer is yes and you are lost in this soup of words, this page should shed some light.
With the advent of compression technologies such as MP3 and MP4 and ubiquitous access to digital networks, consumers find the content they want and consume it the time they want, the place they want, on the device they want, but…
Most of the content consumers want is copyrighted. Copyright is a monopoly right given by the state to the creator of a literary or artistic work, subject to some “copyright exceptions” called in some countries “fair use”. If you encounter the symbol © followed by a year (e.g. 1988), possibly the name of a place and the wording “All rights reserved” it means that someone holds the “right to copy”, i.e. to commercially exploit that particular work. A work may also be copyrighted even if this wording is not present because the very act to create a literary or artistic work gives the creator the copyright of that work.
A work with no copyright is in the public domain. This is the case for very old works. Anybody can do anything for works in the public domain.
The typical way to exploit the copyright of a work is to license its use to distributors at certain conditions, e.g. for a given country, a given distribution channel (radio, cable, CD etc.), a given period of time etc. If the work is digitally expressed the distributor may (have to) resort to technologies to enforce the rights he has been granted. A general name for these technologies is Digital Rights Management (DRM) and a typical feature is that they typically enable content consumption only on certain devices.
No matter how legal and justified this is, it flies in the face of what consumers would like to do, technology enables them to do and many are actually doing.
Creative Commons (CC) is a recent effort initiated by Prof. Lessig of Stanford University. CC has been designed to provide a more flexible management of the monopolistic rights that the law of most countries assigns to the creator. CC has defined six licenses and these have a legal value in the several tens of jurisdictions for which they were developed.
Creators who want to publish their works using CC have the option of choosing one out of six licenses and publish their works. A CC licence is called “attribution” and is used by creators who do not add any condition if not that people should know that the work has been created by them. Another is “attribution non commercial” and is used by creators who add the conditions that their works may not be exploited commercially. Still another is “derivative share alike” and is used by creators who want to allow modification of their works on condition that the derivative works are further distributed with the same licence.
Several tens of million works have been published with a CC licence. A good example of their use is provided by “movie scripts” published with a “non commercial” licence. The CC licence enables a viral distribution of the work (excellent for making the movie script known) but a movie producer who likes the script has to go back to the author and get a “commercial” (this time non-CC) licence for using the script in a movie.
Published by Chris Anderson, the long tail theory affirms that if there is a lot of value in the few “hits” that sell millions of copies to a generalist public, there is also a lot of (maybe more) value in the many works of interest to niches. So far CC licences have been unable to provide support to the “long tail” phenomenon. The reason is that the non-CC contract the publication of a long tail work with a CC licence will hopefully lead to is hard to achieve because of the high (human resource) cost it takes in developing a legal, non-CC, commercial licence to exploit it.
Long tail content is a important reality today with the name User Generated Content (UGC). Millions of UGC items have been created and uploaded to UGC web sites, some of which have been successful in attracting millions of visitors. Probably the most well known case is YouTube, a web site set up four years ago and sold two years ago for 1.6 billion dollars. However, it is ironical that the founders, who never uploaded a single video, got that huge sum from the sale of YouTube while millions of UGC video creators got nothing.
The world of digital media definitely needs some rebalancing…
WIM TV is an experimental system designed to solve some of the problems highlighted above. The goal is to enable those who create good long tail videos to get a reward for their work, if valid. This is achieved by giving creators the means to release their digital video content packaged in a file with five technologies and containing:
Depending on the type of CC licence, anybody can use the content released with the WIM TV technology according to the terms of the licence. A service provider could find the video on the internet, e.g. by exploiting the rich set of metadata and then provide services, e.g. advertisement, based on it. Creators would know how many times their content is used and could have common metrics with the service provider to share revenues according to a variety of business models.
For the time being WIM TV does not include a generic payment interfaces, so users will not be able to charge for their content. Apart of the economic “reward” users may receive for using WIM their digital video content, WIM TV provides other benefits compared to traditional distribution of digital media.
WIM TV is not a proprietary solution. It is entirely based on a number of standards developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), the same group that developed the highly successful MP3 and MP4 standards, as integrated by the Digital Media Project (DMP) with an Open Source Software (OSS) implementation called Chillout® released under Mozilla Public Licence (MPL) v.1.1.
The figure below shows the main blocks of WIM TV.
Figure 1 – Reference diagram of the WIM TV system
The Content Creation Device (CCD) is the software tool that lets creators package their videos for distribution in the format described above.
The WIM TV server is the machine used by a service provider to implement a business model. For instance it can collect video content generated by creators using the CCD, posts them on a web site for consumers to browse and streams them with possibly embedded ads via the Content Provider Device (CPD). The WIM TV server also includes a Content Identification Device (CID) that creators can use to give unique identifiers to their video content package and Device Identification Device (DID) that is capable of identifying any device used in the WIM TV system.
The CPD can stream video over a variety of delivery mechanisms. One of them is the WWW (Web TV), another is the Internet Protocol (IP) with some sort of guaranteed delivery (IPTV) and yet another is mobile (Mobile TV). The three delivery mechanisms have given the name WIM TV to the system. End users can consume WIM TV video content using an End User Device (EUD).
The Event Collection Device is a system, possibly managed by a third party, that collects events and provides statistical information about them.
The WIM TV trial, conducted during the Beijing Olympics, is the first implementation of WIM TV. Its goal is to provide a publication and delivery platform of UGC videos produced by Beijing citizens, residents living in Beijing or students of selected universities.
The content published on the WIM TV trial platform can be anything for which the Creator holds rights (hence no Olympic Games content, in general). Therefore the recommended type of content can be described as “discover Beijing during the Olympic Games, but outside of the Olympic Games”.
Examples of suitable video types are:
The entire WIM TV code base is available at http://chillout.dmpf.org/. With this anybody can set up his own WIM TV server.
Creators and end users can go to http://www.wimtv.net/ to download and install the CCD and EUD, respectively.
The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) a working group of ISO/IEC in charge of the development of standards for coded representation of digital audio and video. Established in 1988, the group has produced the MPEG-1 standard on which such products as Video CD and MP3 are based, the MPEG-2 standard on which such products as Digital Television set top boxes and DVD are based, the MPEG-4 standard for fixed and mobile web multimedia, the MPEG-7 standard, for describing and searching audio and visual content and the MPEG-21 standard, also known as the Multimedia Framework.
In addition to those "consolidated" (although still partly evolving) standards, MPEG is working on a number of other standard lines: MPEG-A "Multimedia Application Format" is a suite of standards that integrate multiple MPEG (and non-MPEG as well) technologies to provide application-specific standards. MPEG-B, MPEG-C, MPEG-D provide Systems, Video and Audio specific standards, respectively; MPEG-E "MPEG Multimedia Middleware" or M3W provides support to download and execution of multimedia applications and MPEG-V, “Information Exchange between Virtual Worlds” will provide standards for exchange of “assets” between real and virtual worlds and between virtual worlds, and ISO/IEC 29116 "Supplemental Media Technologies" collects other media-related standards required by MPEG-A standards.
In its 18 years of activity MPEG has developed an impressive portfolio of technologies that have created an industry worth several hundreds billion USD.
Currently MPEG is working on a number of new standards
The Digital Media Project (DMP) is a not-for-profit organisation established in December 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland, with the mission to "promote continuing successful development, deployment and use of digital media that respect the rights of creators and rights holders to exploit their works, the wish of end users to fully enjoy the benefits of digital media and the interests of various value-chain players to provide products and services, according to the principles laid down in the Digital Media Manifesto".
The main achievement of the DMP is the Interoperable DRM Platform a suite of nine documents, currently at version 3.1:
The WIM TV trial has been organised by the DMP and operated by Peking University.
The DMP has developed Chillout® an open source software project implementing the IDP specification in order to foster its adoption. Chillout is cross-platform and consists of a set of Java libraries implementing DRM functions and Java applications built on top of the Chillout libraries. Chillout is being developed by a growing international community and is released as Open Source Software under the Mozilla Public License 1.1.
The Chillout software is based on the Java platform and is divided in a set of libraries which can be grouped in two categories: Libraries and Devices, as shown in the figure below.
Figure 2: Chillout software layers
The first category includes the Core, the Auxiliary, the Media Framework and the P2P libraries. The Core library can be employed to generate any XML structure conformant to the IDP specification, and conversely to extract any information contained within it. It also provides the methods to generate and parse files conformant to the MPEG-21 File Format which may contain governed/protected audio-visual data with the associated XML description. Finally it provides the means for a Device to communicate with other Devices using the standard IDP-defined SOAP messages. As the name implies, the Auxiliary library contains the auxiliary classes such as those encapsulating the functionalities that every Device must have when operating in a real environment, such as digital signature calculation, secure storage of information, license validation, tools for instantiating and operating IPMP Tools (modules performing encryption, watermarking, etc.), several implementations of IPMP Tools etc. The Media Framework library provide an abstraction layer between a Chillout application and the media frameworks on which a Device may rely on when managing (e.g. decoding, rendering, encrypting, decrypting, etc.) audio-visual resources; GStreamer, VLC and the Java Media Framework have currently been integrated as part of this library. Finally the P2P library enables all Devices to connect to a Peer to Peer DHT-based network for publishing, searching and retrieving governed/protected content.
The Device category includes a number of java applications as shown above.
The Content Creation Device (CCD) creates governed/protected content including rights and protection information, metadata and streaming information.
The End-User Device (EUD) and the Portable Audio and Visual Device (PAV) are capable of rendering governed/protected content streamed by a Content Provider Device (CPD) or stored in a file, informing the end user of the content usage conditions, retrieving licenses from a License Provider Device (LPD) and IPMP Tools from a DRM Tool Provider Device (TPD).
The Domain Management Device is capable of creating a domain of EUDs, renew the domain membership, delete a domain, add a Device to a domain, remove a Device from a domain, etc.
The Content (CID), Device (DID) and Domain (DoID) Identification Devices provide identifiers to new content items, Devices and domains.
The Chillout software is currently at version 1.0.0. The software is available in source code from a Subversion repository (see links below) with anonymous checkout. Chillout software can be built using Maven 2, which may also generate projects for each module for the major java development platforms such as Eclipse. Installers of sample Chillout applications (CCD and EUD) for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems are also available for downloading (see links below).
 According to the DMP terminology, governed implies that rights information is bound to the content, thus informing the end user about the usage conditions of the content but this does not necessarily imply that content is protected (e.g. a Creative Commons-like approach).