Mercurix Secures Digital Content Distribution

SINGAPORE (04/11/2000) - The Mercurix subsidiary of National Computer Systems Pte. Ltd. (NCS), will offer a digital rights management service which it said will allow content providers to protect and obtain payment for the sale of their content such as music, video, data, and other intellectual properties.

Built on technology developed by InterTrust Technologies Corp., the service supports Internet commerce transactions involving content, but will not be restricted by bandwidth limitations that are hindering digital commerce today, Mercurix said.

"With the global penetration of the Internet, the key to enabling electronic distribution is no longer an issue of the physical network, but rather, the ability to govern the legitimate consumption of quality content," said Jeffrey Tan, managing director, Mercurix.

The company's service will provide content providers with the ability to market their digital assets in a protected environment where their intellectual rights are enforced according their strategies, Tan explained. Mercurix will allow content providers to encrypt their intellectual properties with a secure digital container called, DigiBox, which can then be distributed over the Internet through content portals.

"The key factors that were holding back the mass release of legitimate content on the Web was twofold," said Lee Hsien Yang, president and chief executive officer, Singapore Telecom (SingTel), which owns NCS. "Firstly, limitations in bandwidth makes the Internet a cumbersome infrastructure to use. Secondly, there is no technology widely adopted enough to govern the rights of content beyond the confines of the firewalls of a content owner's servers."

SingTel's core business has traditionally been to provide communication services, Lee noted, adding that with Mercurix, the telco provider is developing infrastructure that will move SingTel beyond "the fray of commodity services".

"Today, the persuasiveness of global digital networks, ranging from the Internet to the mobile world of wireless communications, and the relative ease of digital content duplication, have created tremendous opportunities as well as challenges for the content industry," he said.

Digital commerce -- the legitimate buying and selling of digital merchandise over the Internet has yet to take off in a big way, he said. The music world is worth US$45 billion, and analysts predict that online downloads will reach $1 billion by 2003, he noted.

"There is a lack of technology that is sufficiently adopted to assure content owners that it is sage to release legitimate content over the Internet, and that they can govern the usage of content beyond the blunt protection and security of firewalls," Lee said. "At the same time, pirated copies of the same titles are easily accessible over the Internet. Content owners realize that relying solely on legislation for protection under copyright laws in the digital age is insufficient in the age of Internet piracy."

Mercurix is optimistic that the company, alongside its partners, will help the industry come up with a commercially viable model for Asia in the realm of digital commerce and content distribution. Mercurix has roped in Creative Technology, BMG Entertainment Asia-Pacific, and Grammy Entertainment, which are currently trialling the new service for the next three months.

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