Media group to create new digital video "ecosystem"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A group of media industry companies said it is planning to build a digital world where video devices and content websites play together in perfect harmony, and consumers can safely store their digital content and access it anywhere in the world.

The consortium of Hollywood studios, retailers, service providers, and consumer electronics and information technology companies, called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, or DECE, is working on a “uniform digital media experience” but won’t announce details until the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

The consortium said it will call for interoperability of devices and websites, and usage rules that allow consumers to copy content onto household playback devices and to burn their content to physical media, DECE President Mitch Singer said.

The plan also would provide customers a “rights locker” or virtual library where consumers’ digital video purchases would be stored for retrieval in a manner similar to accessing an email account, Singer said.

The consortium plans to design a logo that will be placed on products and websites to let consumers know that those products and services are compatible with DECE standards.

“We will be developing a ... specification that services and device makers can license. They can use the logo to associate their device, knowing that when the consumer goes to buy the content, they know it will play,” Singer said.

The new digital framework would turn Apple Inc’s “closed” iTunes model on its head, Singer said.

“This is very different from the Apple ecosystem,” he said. “We encourage Apple to join the consortium. We don’t ever anticipate Apple going away or this consortium replacing it.”

The consortium aims to recapture in the digital universe the sense of comfort and simplicity of use that consumers found with DVDs, said Mark Coblitz, senior vice president of strategic planning for Comcast Corp.

“They knew that when they brought (a DVD) home, they could play it on the device of their choice,” Coblitz said. “We see this vision of ‘buy once, play anywhere.’”

The consortium includes Alcatel-Lucent, Best Buy Co Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, Comcast, News Corp’s Fox Entertainment Group, Hewlett-Packard Co, Intel, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, Microsoft Corp, General Electric Co’s NBC Universal, Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures, Philips, Sony Corp, Toshiba, VeriSign, and Time Warner Inc’s Warner Bros Entertainment.

Editing by Phil Berlowitz