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Industry Group Launches Entertainment Registry

27 Oct, 2010 By: Chris Tribbey

A new industry initiative is underway to tag every commercial digital video worldwide, helping group every asset into one catalog with the hopes of streamlining digital delivery and simplify commercial transactions of digital video.

“Most companies today are either using proprietary or disparate organic systems to catalog their entertainment assets, making the process of tracking content across multiple systems very difficult, said Steve Weinstein, president and CEO of MovieLabs. [The registry] can provide the missing communication link between businesses.”

According to Adam Powers, director of standards and emerging technology for Rovi Corp., one of the founding members of the Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR), the registry aims to simplify the task of tracking all of the millions of new videos coming from content companies and distribution channels, making life easier for everyone in the digital entertainment supply chain.

“We started having conversations with the studios about this a year ago,” he said. “The idea is to have a central clearing house for IDing content, uniquely identifying each piece of content, movie and TV, via a code.”

For content producers the registry aims to help simplify post-production and lead to greater product distribution. For distributors it can help eliminate confusion between different versions of an asset, e.g. a video with several language tracks.

Much like International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for the book industry, the EIDR would assign a single, unique identification code to movie and TV assets. But because of the different versions of single video assets — including different version edits, formats, regions, languages, subtitles, standard definition, high-def and so on — the sheer amount of digital tags EIDR will have to undertake will be much larger than any other media tagging ever undertaken.

The international coalition is being led by MovieLabs, CableLabs, Comcast and Rovi, and four of the six major studios — Warner, Paramount, Disney and Sony — have backed the initiative, with Fox and Paramount in talks with the group, Powers said. The Motion Picture Association of America, Deluxe Digital Studios, Neustar, Civolution and Vobile are also among the industry groups that have also signed on. The service is expected to get off the ground in 2011. The group is an independent nonprofit supported by member dues, and the system is built on an open Digital Object Identifier [DOI] standard. The International DOI Foundation has 10,000 organizations worldwide using its registry system.

Powers said the idea of a digital movie registry has been tried before, but in the past the attempt sought to charge content owners and distributors per video, which simply isn’t feasible with the number of videos out there today. Instead, EIDR charges as little as $2,500 for read-only access to its database, and $35,000 on the high end for full access. “If we get enough members, it will be self sustaining,” Powers added.

“Digital content continues to weave itself into the very fabric of the consumer lifestyle and the need for cross-industry interoperability is now more critical than ever,” said Mitch Singer, chief technology officer for Sony Pictures Entertainment and president of the cloud-based digital locker initiative UltraViolet. “EIDR’s mission of an industry-wide registry is synergistic with cross-industry efforts as we both look to bring freedom from proprietary formats, ultimately resulting in freedom of entertainment for consumers.”

Joseph Cates, SVP of technology for Universal Pictures, praised the idea, saying “the entire video ecosystem will benefit from a more streamlined identification process, while Darcy Antonellis, president of Warner Bros. Technical Operations, called it “a means to provide an innovative way to handle content management across digital platforms and services.”

Greg Gewickey, VP of technology strategy for Deluxe said the registry will simplify how studios go about identifying and moving around the multiple versions of any given content.

“[It will help] increase workflow efficiencies while also lowering the risks of misidentification caused by duplication and lack of ID uniqueness,” he said.

“With the growing importance of digital distribution, for full-length features and increasingly for clips and smaller segments, a standardized approach to unique identification of even the smallest digital asset is essential,” said Chris Carey, EVP of worldwide technical operations for Paramount Pictures. “The movie industry formed MovieLabs with the goal of enabling more efficient and more profitable legal distribution of content, and we are pleased to see MovieLabs and other industry leaders spearheading an effort like EIDR.”  

For more information visit www.eidr.org.


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