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Created: November 27, 2001.
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ContentGuard Releases XrML Version 2.0 and Submits Specification to Standards Bodies.

ContentGuard, Inc. recently announced the release of XrML (Extensible Rights Markup Language) version 2.0, confirming also that XrML has been submitted to MPEG and to TV Anytime. XrML is a "general-purpose, XML-based specification grammar for expressing rights and conditions associated with digital content, resources, and services; it is based on years of research at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which invented the rights expression language concept. XrML 2.0 expands the capabilities of a Digital Rights Language -- usually thought of in connection with authorized use of protected digital content -- to now also allow developers to establish the rights and conditions needed to access various Web Services. As part of a trusted environment, XrML can be used to apply rights to a wide variety of content and services to enable custom tailoring of digital offerings. For example, a Financial Services company can expand its online products from simple password access to customized and personalized offerings that combine services and content such as portfolio analysis, real time video, on-line consulting, or research reports. Each offering can use different rights (e.g., view, save, forward), conditions (e.g., free, fee based, limited time) and delivery methods (e.g., downloaded, streamed, ASP). New services with specific rights can be added to individuals or user groups through use of XrML. ContentGuard is owned by Xerox Corporation, with Microsoft Corporation holding a minority position." ContentGuard is licensing its patents (which enable developers to deploy applications based on XrML) "throughout the world on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions" [RAND].

The XRML Version 2.0 specification (2001-11-20) is presented in five parts, accompanied by XML schemas and other documentation. The specification "defines the Extensible Rights Markup Language (XrML), a general-purpose language in XML used to describe the rights and conditions for using digital resources. It also provides mechanisms to ensure message integrity and entity authentication within XrML documents. The specification consists of the following parts:

  • Part I: Primer: Provides non-normative information about XrML including an overview of the language, an introduction to basic XrML concepts, and an explanation of the extensibility mechanisms the language provides.
  • Part II: XrML Core Schema: Provides normative technical details regarding the core of the XrML design and architecture.
  • Part III: Standard Extension Schema: Provides normative technical details regarding the XrML standard extension. This extension to the language defines types and elements common to many XrML usage scenarios but which do not form part of the language's core.
  • Part IV: Content Extension Schema: Provides normative technical details regarding the XrML content extension. This extension to the language defines types and elements to describe rights, conditions, and metadata for digital works, allowing trusted systems to exchange digital works and interoperate.
  • Part V: Appendices: Provides an index, a glossary, a list of references, and a list of acknowledgements."

Note on ContentGuard patent licensing: ContentGuard's 'XrML' rights language has been characterized publicly as "freely available" and "[licensed] royalty-free," but such descriptions should be understood against the backdrop of ContentGuard's patent claims. ContentGuard makes reference to 'A Sturdy Patent Portfolio' said to be relevant to XrML and to any rights language: "ContentGuard has an important and early foundation patent portfolio pertaining to the distribution of digital works and to any rights language. These United States issued patents have also been filed in Japan, Europe and other countries. They contain broad fundamental claims covering: (1) Association of usage rights to content; (2) A grammar to define rights or conditions; (3) Persistent protection; (4) Distribution of composite digital content; (5) Fee accounting and reporting associated with the distribution or use of content..." ContentGuard is licensing these patents (which enable developers to deploy applications based on XrML) "throughout the world on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions" [RAND].

From the ContentGuard/XrML statement on standards bodies: "ContentGuard intends to submit XrML to standards bodies that are developing specifications that enable the exchange and trading of content as well as the creation of repositories for storage and management of digital content. Some of the areas of technological standards work into which we expect to submit XrML for consideration would be in DRM, Metadata, Content Management, Content Delivery and Distribution, and Access Control/Security Services. We have also strived very hard to maintain a broad scope of applicability for XrML with respect to media type. The content "products" of the future will be collections of many types of content in many forms. Text will be combined with graphics, streamed video/audio, and subscription-based content available from a particular network resource or web service. Because of this confluence of content types we expect to submit XrML for consideration as the Rights Management Language in standards efforts in the areas of eBooks, digital publishing, digital broadcasting, music, video, digital cinema, digital TV, and all other content/media types..."

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