Protecting rights

Ensuring consumer satisfaction

By Morand Fachot

Consumers are producing, viewing, listening to and managing an increasing volume of digital content on devices in the consumer electronics, mobile and PC domains. They want to enjoy and share this content across different devices and locations in their home environment. The DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) has developed guidelines that allow the design of interoperable devices and also protect the commercial interests of content providers.

DLNA-enabled devices can share digital content over a network and protect it from illegitimate use access

Framework for interoperable devices

The DLNA, which brings together more than 250 of the world's most important digital brands, has developed a framework to allow the design of interoperable devices. To achieve this it has prepared DLNA Home Networked Device Interoperability Guidelines that are published as IEC International Standards.

DLNA-enabled devices may include the following: audio/video systems; digital cameras, recorders, and camcorders; DVD and Blu-ray; game consoles; gateway/routers; PCs; electronic photo frames; network attached storage; mobile devices; printers; set-top boxes; projectors; tablets; TV sets and other appliances.

Multilayered interoperability

DLNA Interoperability Guidelines identify a family of protocols and standards that allow a wide selection of devices to easily find, recognize each other and connect to share digital content.

To allow this, DLNA narrowed down a plethora of protocols and standards to a small set that enables digital devices to connect easily. This set includes, among others: DTCP-IP (Digital Transmission Content Protection over Internet Protocol) for link protection to shield commercial content on home networks; MPEG-2, MPEG-4, JPEG, MP3 and other digital media coding formats; HTTP quality of service to transfer media content; UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) for media management, device discovery and control and IP networking, as well as various connectivity standards such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802-11 or Wi-Fi Direct.

Allowing sharing of content across devices

A key condition for the media industry to allow sharing of its digital content is to ensure that it is protected from piracy and illegitimate redistribution. DRM (digital rights management) solutions have been developed that guarantee this.

Using DTCP-IP DLNA has designed methods that enable the secure transfer and use of protected commercial content among different implementations on network media devices.

DLNA Guidelines for DIS (DRM Interoperability Solutions) that allow the sharing of content that may be protected by different DRM technologies will be published in the coming weeks as International Standard IEC 62481-4, Digital living network alliance (DLNA) home networked device interoperability guidelines – Part 4: DRM interoperability solutions.

Complex issues

Consumers acquire commercial digital content from different sources (Internet, cable or satellite TV), with different usage rights and price points (e.g. films streamed on a pay-per-view basis or bought from an Internet video download service). At the same time they expect to be able to store, transport and enjoy that content at any location and on any device on their wired or wireless home network using consumer-friendly solutions.

To allow this IEC 62481-4 provides a comprehensive framework that includes details and examples of DLNA home networking architecture and DLNA device models as well as guidelines. The Standard specifies DRM interoperability technology guidelines and references additional Standards in the IEC 62481 series and other Standards. It also gives examples of download/upload copy/move sequences.

IEC 62481-4 gives manufacturers and developers the information they need to build interoperable networked platforms and devices for the digital home for the benefit of users and ensuring that the commercial interests of content providers are duly protected too. The ever growing choice and acceptance of DLNA-enabled devices validate the technology's benefits.

dlna-logo_org DLNA-enabled devices can share digital content over a network and protect it from illegitimate use access
dlna_sd_card_org This device acts as a DLNA-enabled bridge between SD or USB storage media and router (Photo: Planex)
tablet_org Many tablets and mobile phones are DNLA-compatible (Photo: Samsung)