All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

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Old 27-05-2003, 06:16 PM
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DRM and the Nokia 3650

With the recent the recent release of version 4.0 of Nokiaís Mobile Internet Toolkit DRM on the 3650 is likely to start getting some attention. The 3650 supports DRM (Digital Rights Management) through the Open Mobile Alliance standard (only forward-lock). In practice this means content developers can protect wallpapers (JPEG, GIF), ringtones and J2ME midlets that are downloaded via WAP so that they can not be copied to another phone. Read on to find out more.

DRM is obviously a hot topic be it in the music industry, ebook industry or elsewhere. The general idea behind it, is to allow content or program authors to restrict the ability of the end user to view or copy the protected material. At its simplest form DRM prevents copying of material to another location (something which computer users are use to taking for granted). In the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM standard this is facilitated by the forward-lock protocol. It does exactly what it sounds like it does Ė it lock the forwarding of material. Forwarding of wallpaper, ringtones and J2ME program has become increasingly popular with the rise of smartphone which allow them to be sent in numerous ways (infra red, Bluetooth, e-mail and MMS). Content that has been protected by DRM forward-lock prevents the user from doing this.

Content and software authors use DRM to protect their copyright and prevent unauthorized copying of their content. With Nokiaís Mobile Internet Toolkit version 4.0 DRM creation tools are built into one of the most popular mobile development tools available. The basic process is an inputting of the unprotected content which will then output the protected content in the form of a dm file.

Analysts regard DRM as essential before the widespread availability of content from major media companies is possible. Lee Epting of Forum Nokia says that Ďthe increased DRM protection improves the ability to generate revenuesí. Here we have the key to DRM on phones Ė it is about creating more revenues for both operators and content providers by providing a mechanism to control content.

Is this necessarily bad for the end user? Inevitably people shrink away from control like this. However it should encourage a whole new industry to make content available for end users. You are not going to see every J2ME program, MIDI file and wallpaper files suddenly protected by DRM. Indeed it is likely that only high valued content will be protected. J2ME apps are the obvious high value content. DRM will be used to fight the illegal copying of software on phones.

If you currently buy all your software or create your own wallpapers you donít have anything to worry about. The chances are you wonít know which material is protected and which isnít. And DRM will mean thereís more and more content available, which youíll like. You might want to worry if you regularly copy that J2ME program off your mate when you are down the pub.

DRM on the Nokia 3650 doesnít yet support SIS files nor is implementation very widespread. However this may well change in the future (richer media support is promised in OMA DRM 2.0). Certainly coming in the future are additional DRM controls already provided for in the version 1.0 specifications including those that which allow viewing of content a certain number of times within a given period or similar.

DRM is going to cause lots of mixed reactions. Iím sure it will be popular with developers and end users (particularly the power end users reading this) are less likely to be enthused. The message you want tot take away is that like a lot of DRM itís almost certainly inevitable and it at the end of the day, at least on your phone, itís going to give you more benefits that you probably realize.

Useful links:
OMA DRM Specifications: http://www.openmobilealliance.org
Nokia Press Release for NMIT 4: http://www.forum.nokia.com/main/1,6566,1_1_30,00.html
Nokia Forum on DRM: http://discussion.forum.nokia.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?forumid=64
Forum Nokia DRM Pages: http://www.forum.nokia.com/main/1,6566,1_41,00.html
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