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EIDR: A Much-needed Standard for Licensing and Online Distribution

By Mike McGuire | November 07, 2010 | 0 Comments

At first glance, the Entertainment ID Registry (EIDR) strikes one as one of those consortia that could easily end up claiming to want to work together as an industry to solve common problems , but either out of disinterest or distrust, never quite pull off codifying and spreading whatever standard was originally desired. Yet, I’m hoping EIDR actually avoids the fate of well-intention-but-never-deployed standard.

Why? Common IDs are required as content is increasingly able to be transmitted across multiple networks, in multiple formats and consumed by multiple types of devices.  As the number of possible formats and consumption models increase, do do the requirements to track and account for this consumption.  Having a common ID is crucial for increase accuracy (which is the basis for any business model, let alone new and emerging ones) and lower costs of operation, among other things.

The consortia currently has five of the major movie studios are members, technology providers include ROVI (formerly Macrovision), CableLabs, MovieLabs, Comcast, Ad-ID, and others. EIDR members said the new standard is now in beta and that the consortium is accepting new membership requests.

While I include myself among those industry watchers whose first reaction to hearing of the birthing of another industry consortium is to typically roll my eyes, as a consumer, I hope this one does last.

First, it’s a consortium with the first objective being the agreement of every consortium member to immediately start using the EIDR’s common content ID format which is based on DOI, a metadata standard in many industries.  A common content ID is something that my colleagues and I have been pushing for in multiple documents (“Foundations in Place for Digital Experience Management,” and “Mapping Content Experiences,” among others) because it is an important step in reducing friction in the licensing process between rightsholders and media companies and emerging online content and hybrid (as in hybrid TV) services.

Second, the industry group is creating a non-profit company to oversee the standard and the registry.  Third, the consortium is working with the Center for National Resource Initiatives (CNRI) which has developed similar common ID standards and systems for academic journals and the military.  CNRI will serve as EIDR’s software integrator/professional services arm.

When I asked personnel at companies involved in EIDR as current or potential members, why all of a sudden – after years of false-starts and seeming indifference to investing in common IDs and license registries – there’s all this action?  I mean, just a couple of months ago, the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) announced UltraViolet, a consortium of device manufacturers. And three years ago when I interviewed a number of execs and managers who oversee rights-in and rights-out licensing systems at the studios and networks who, at the time, all said an industry registry and common ID were all absolute requirements but they could not see how or when their industry company would actually back it or get involved in starting one. (There have been attempts to create a common content ID in recent years but they foundered due to concerns about costs, extensibility or administration.)

Bottom line: it seems that the c-level execs, the technology execs and the lawyers all finally saw the need to invest in the industry’s infrastructure in order to profit in a non-linear/online world. Let’s hope it sticks.

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