5 January 2004 Five of the world’s biggest technology companies are grouping together in a fresh attempt to solve the problem of digital rights management.
The consortium — dubbed Project Hudson — is made up of Intel, Nokia, Samsung, Toshiba and Matshushita, better known in Europe under the Panasonic brand name. Its purpose is to develop technology that can prevent piracy without inhibiting legal file sharing.
The companies are expected to announce their plans in early February. Their aim is to strike a balance that permits promotional downloads and new legal sites such as Apple’s iTunes, but prevents mass file swapping over peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa.
Digital rights management is a recurring problem for music, video and software companies. Project Hudson will face competing solutions from other industry groups, including Sony and Philips, and Apple and RealNetworks. Microsoft has also entered the field.
But the number of different plans is hampering the growth of digital technologies, according to Leonardo Chiariglione, an Italian electrical engineer who developed the original MP3 digital audio compression standard.
“Content should be movable anywhere and still be protected,” Mr Chiariglione told the New York Times. “If we stay with digital islands people have a legitimate excuse to piracy.”
There is also some cautious optimism in the fight against piracy following news that illegal music downloads have fallen since the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) started filing lawsuits against song swappers last year.
Record companies in America are also reporting a recovery in pre-Christmas sales.