13th December 2006, 11:30-12:30 - Roger Steven Building , Lecture Theatre 21 (RSLT-21)

Keynote: Huw Williams, Standards Based Digital Rights Management - Potentially viable or just a pipe dream?

  • Huw Williams is Head of Research for the BBC - ensuring the research function delivers the technological innovation required by the BBC as it moves forward. Previously, he has been Head of Technology for both BBC Television and News concentrating on technological innovation. As Head of New Media Development for BBC Radio & Music, he set up the Technical and Design teams that developed the BBC Radio web sites. Before the BBC, Huw founded a number of New Media companies developing web based solutions, interactive TV software and consultancy for a range of media clients.

  • Why is DRM important to the BBC? There are three simple reasons for this, each of which becomes even more important when we're talking about the digital world - be it broadcasting or broadband. The first point is one of ownership. The rights structure of much of our content is incredibly complex. We quite often buy-in rights, for Sports or for feature films. Sometimes our production partners and talent retain certain rights when we commission a programme and quite often we only have rights to broadcast certain content a certain number of times. In addition to this, we might have co-production partners involved in a production which means that we share the rights of content, often based upon territories. The next point is legality. All of the above are usually legally enforced in the form of a contract. Regardless of platform, this agreement needs to be honoured and certain types of DRM are becoming an acceptable means for providing a degree of protection when digitally distributing content. Finally, for the content we do fully own, we often commercially exploit that content internationally and DRM can be seen as a form of protection for that business. But there is a word of warning with all of these points. The audience experience. The protection of rights models and commercial revenue shouldn't get in the way of the experience received by our public service audiences. Unfortunately, we're already seeing some high profile cases of this and it's likely that the problem will get worse before it gets better. Huw Williams will discuss the BBC's work in the field of DRM and provide some views of where they see the technology in this space heading in the future.