Sonic Bows Content Patent License Program26 May, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Sonic Solutions May 26 launched a licensing program for its patented software that allows third-parties to update packaged media, including DVD and Blu-ray Disc, through the Internet.
Novato, Calif.-based Sonic’s “621” patent allows studios to enhance previous Blu-ray releases via BD-Live, in addition to providing access to online entertainment services such as those powered by Sonic’s RoxioNow platform (formerly CinemaNow).
Sonic believes the value of the “621” patent is the ability to enhance the value of physical media through Web-based services, while bringing retailers, device manufacturers and content owners closer to consumers.
“Bringing the immediacy of Web-based content to physical media not only maintains the relevance of disc-based content, it also acts as a transition point that can help educate consumers and make them more comfortable with digital entertainment experiences,” said Arash Amel, research director, digital media, Screen Digest.
More importantly, implementation of the “621” license program is important because it puts prospective licensees on notice that Sonic expects to get paid for content that connects to the so-called “digital cloud” using its RoxioNow technology. Studios and the consumer electronics industry envision the “digital cloud” concept as a means of allowing consumers access to entertainment content stored on a remote server that can be accessed via portable media devices, PCs and connected Blu-ray players.
“We believe issuing [this] press release putting prospective licensees on notice (and competitors) is a strategic move by Sonic and is part of RoxioNow’s strong competitive position,” wrote Ralph Schackart, digital media analyst with William Blair & Co., in Chicago, in a note.
Schackart, who covers Sonic, said the rapidly changing market for home entertainment, underscored by studios tweaking of release windows for new movies, mandates taking control of the technologies that enable digital distribution, including transactional video-on-demand (VOD).
Specifically, Schackart believes studios are pushing disparate distribution platforms such as Walmart’s Vudu service, Apple iTunes, Amazon VOD and cable VOD to become compatible. Currently, movies and episodic television purchased on iTunes cannot be accessed via an Amazon VOD account, Vudu, etc. The analyst believes studios want access to digital entertainment to replicate DVD, whereby consumers can buy/rent a disc and play it on any player, PC or laptop.
“Studios do not want another format war,” Schackart wrote. “[RoxioNow’s] ‘digital locker’ platform has the competitive advantage of enabling inter-operability across all digital services.”