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RealNetworks adds digital rights management, plays catch up

Jan 09, 20032 mins
Data Center

RealNetworks announced today at CES that it is adding support for digital rights management (DRM) technology into its stable of products. The new open source Helix DRM offering, which is currently in beta, can be used to protect RealAudio, RealVideo, MPEG-4, MP3, H.263 video, AAC and Narrowband AMR audio content from illicit copying and distribution. Real’s arch rival Microsoft has had DRM support built into its technology for a while, but it only protects the Windows Media audio and video formats. Real takes things one step further by adding support for industry standard MP3 and the newer MPEG-4 formats.

DRM is becoming a hot topic among major media and entertainment companies wanting to peddle their wares online without fear of piracy and Napster-ization of the content. Microsoft was way ahead of Real in the DRM race, especially with the wide array of consumer electronic devices that support the company’s efforts.

Windows Media is catching up to MP3 in terms of devices that support the formats, another area where Real is now trying to catch up. In a second announcement today at CES, Real and Access Co. say they’re joining forces to embed the core technology in the Helix DNA Client (the heart of the RealOne Player) into used by consumer devices. Access’ NetFront browser will support RealAudio and RealVideo playback in future releases, which Real hopes will help it keep pace with the adoption of Windows Media in the consumer electronics world.