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Phone biz agrees on $1 DRM levy

Plus a penny per download

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The mobile phone industry has already agreed on a DRM standard for locking down media - and it'll cost $1 per handset, plus a percentage of each piece of media downloaded.

The secretive Open Mobile Alliance, which represents 200 industry heavyweights, actually agreed its first-generation DRM specification back in July last year, and has sketched out its successor, but the royalty schedule had not been agreed. Now the MPEG LA, a clearing house for technology patents including Firewire and MPEG family of protocols, has brought the IP holders together to agree how much it will cost manufacturers.

To implement OMA DRM 1.0 or 2.0 the manufacturer will pay $1 per device, and the carrier, or service provider, one per cent of the transaction. The money will be divvied out between patent holders ContentGuard, Intertrust, Matsushita, Philips and Sony.

Agreement has been rapid, taking less than four months. But it's nevertheless a considerable burden to cost-sensitive manufacturers, which often balk at paying more than a few cents for essential software. Handset vendors only pay around $5 to license the air interface. The costs will indirectly be born by the consumers, who as always in a lock-down regime, end up paying more for less.

You can read a comprehensive account of the mobile industry's lock down efforts to date here. ®

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