Open Media Commons Releases Specifications and Source Code for Open, Royalty-Free DRM

open media commons logoSun Microsystems hosted the first Open Media Commons (OMC) Workshop in mid-March to further the community’s goal of developing open, royalty-free digital rights management (DRM) and codec standards. In conjunction with the workshop and building on the announcement last year of Sun Labs’ Project DReaM (DRM/everywhere available), Sun released two draft specifications for content protection technologies – DReaM-CAS (Conditional Access System) and DReaM-MMI (Mother May I). Sun also released open source code for a prototype implementation of the DReaM-CAS conditional access system. More than 80 participants from a range of organizations came together to discuss new technical specifications and source code, define plans for the completion of those specifications and determine the next steps required to develop an open, royalty-free DRM solution.

The DReaM-CAS client specification defines a complete open conditional access system that enables delivery and consumption of protected content over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, using the MPEG-2 Transport Stream (TS) format. The CAS model utilizes open standard technologies for security such as PKI and SSL, as well as existing content protection technologies such as AES, ECC and 3DES. In addition, Sun posted the open source code for a prototype implementation of the DReaM-CAS conditional access system at

The DReaM-MMI specification outlines a different approach to managing rights for a variety of client types that are directly or indirectly connected to content networks. The design philosophy underlying DReaM-MMI is that clients should be able to negotiate for rights through standardized protocols rather than downloading a license with an embedded expression of rights. The specification defines the message protocol, message transport and a list of profiles required to ascertain rights by a DRM client from a rights server.

These specific technical measures for content protection form the core of securing and safeguarding content in any DRM solution. DReaM, based on a service oriented architecture system design that leverages open standards, is capable of interoperating directly with other content protection technologies and supports services that enable both Conditional Access System and Digital Rights Management models. The specifications are initially available under the OMC terms at, and Sun ultimately plans to release the implementation code as open source under the OSI-approved Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL).

“With more people and devices participating on the network every day, there is a growing need for the community to develop and implement an open, safe and business-friendly DRM solution,” said Tom Jacobs, project lead for Open Media Commons and a director in Sun Microsystems Laboratories. “We’re encouraged that participants from across the DRM value chain, from content creators, owners and distributors, to consumer electronics device manufacturers and industry organizations, are coming together to address the issues and propose viable solutions.”

Organizations represented at the workshop include technology companies such as Cisco, HP and IBM; consumer electronics device manufactures such as Motorola, Panasonic and Samsung; content distributors such as Sony BMG and Warner Music Group; network operators such as Telecom Italia; and industry organizations such as MPEG-LA. More information from the workshop, including speaker presentations, transcripts and technical documentation, is expected to be available shortly at.

Supporting Quotes From Workshop Keynote Speakers

Lawrence Lessig, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Creative Commons and Professor of Law at Stanford Law School: “In a world where DRM has become ubiquitous, we need to ensure that the ecology for creativity is bolstered, not stifled, by technology. We applaud Sun’s efforts to rally the community around the development of open-source, royalty-free DRM standards that support “fair use” and that don’t block the development of Creative Commons ideals.”

Richard Pietravalle of The MITRE Corporation: “The technology surrounding digital rights management has widespread application in the enterprise and the public sector to improve information sharing, while affording additional protection for sensitive materials and records. Open, interoperable digital rights management standards can help increase the availability of digital rights management-based solutions for the secure sharing of sensitive materials.”

Mariellen Calter of Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources: “Universities would benefit from open, standards-based DRM technology that would allow students and faculty to easily access, use and share copyrighted information in a fair manner. I’m interested in the work of the Open Media Commons to develop open-source, interoperable DRM standards that address the needs of learning institutions.”

About the Open Media Commons
Sun’s Open Media Commons is an open-source community project to develop royalty-free codecs and digital rights management (DRM) solutions. The goals of the OMC are to develop an open-source, royalty-free solution for the distribution of digital content, focused on authenticating people and roles, not just devices; to address the application of DRM technology to a wide range of content and situations, including personal rights management, the privacy of health records and compliance management for businesses dealing with Sarbanes-Oxley; and to create an open environment where creators, content owners, consumers, network operators, technology providers and consumer electronics device manufacturers can work together to address the technical problems associated with DRM.

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.
A singular vision — “The Network Is The Computer” — guides Sun in the development of technologies that power the world’s most important markets. Sun’s philosophy of sharing innovation and building communities is at the forefront of the next wave of computing: the Participation Age. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the Web at


Editor’s note: Open Media Commons DreaMCAS protected content can now be played via the VLC media player (more details).

Filed in: Industry Buzz