p2pnet.net News:- Euopean Union antitrust regulators are investigating the proposed Microsoft-Time Warner joint acquisition of a US DRM company which, they feared, could strengthen Microsoft’s “already leading position” in the DRM solutions market.
However, “sources familiar with the case doubt the Commission will block the move, predicting instead that it will be cleared as long as the companies allow third parties to access the technology through licensing,” says an IDG News Service story.
Time Warner recently teamed up with Microsoft to buy most of Xerox Corp’s ContentGuard and in July, MS & TW – “both US companies,” as the EC points out – asked for clearance under the EU’s Merger Regulation for plans to jointly acquire ContentGuard.
“The European Commission has issued a formal set of objections to Microsoft Corp. and Time Warner Inc. taking control of ContentGuard Holdings Inc., a digital rights management (DRM) company, according to sources familiar with the case,” says IDG.
“The Commission, the European Union’s antitrust regulator, sent the two firms a “statement of objections” which they received on Friday, setting out the reasons why it thinks the joint venture might create or strengthen a dominant position in the market.”
The portfolio of DRM patents and technologies include XrML (eXtensible rights Markup Language) which, say the new partners, is now the basis of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved MPEG REL, the standard rights expression language for assigning usage rights and conditions to any digital object.
DRM may have started out as a way to hardwire owners’ music and movie rights, but it’s now being touted “for confidentiality purposes” in the corporate field.
“Under Microsoft’s and Time Warner’s joint ownership, ContentGuard may have both the incentives and the ability to use its IPR portfolio to put Microsoft’s rivals in the DRM solutions market at a competitive disadvantage,” says the EC.
strengthen – Microsoft DRM monopoly fears, p2pnet, August 26, 2004
critical – EU objects to Microsoft-Time Warner ContentGuard deal, IDG News Service, November 10, 2004