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Storage players pitch DRM tech for downloads

If World+Dog streams HD, who'll buy our hard drives then?

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Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox have said they are working on yet another DRM technology for HD video, this time with the support of storage companies WD and SanDisk.

The endeavour is codenamed 'Project Phenix' [sic] and if it won't do much for consumers' ability to spell, it will, the principals promised, give them "an easier and faster way to organise, store and move their HD digital movies and TV shows across multiple devices".

Since we're talking about DRM, we'll take that claim with a pinch of salt: it's one more label you have to look for on the box of the kit you're about to buy to check whether its compatible with the content you already own.

The presence of WD and SanDisk is key: Phoenix is all about protecting downloaded content. The initiative will work with the cloud-based, streaming-centric Ultraviolet, but it's predicated on the idea that some folk will prefer to download files because these files will - notionally - contain content encoded at a higher bitrate - higher quality, in other words - than streaming allows.

Streaming is not in the interests of the likes of WD, SanDisk and other storage companies, almost all of who rely on consumers hoarding digital content rather than simply viewing it online to keep selling ever higher-capacity hard drives to keep it all on.

Phoenix will work with online library services like UV because it's often necessary to re-download a movie you've purchased to get it onto another device - your tablet while you're away on holiday, for instance.

Of course, UV, for one - and the compatible-with-no-one-else iTunes, for another - already enable downloading, so you have to ask, is Phoenix really necessary?

Phoenix will only be a success if other storage and player makers - WD does both, for example - license the technology and build it into their kit. The Phoenix partners have formed a company, the Secure Content Storage Association (SCSA), to make the technology available to others. The SCSA will do so later this year, it said. ®

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