Get ready for the next big DRM, ‘Project Phenix’

Hard disk drive maker Western Digital and memory card giant SanDisk have partnered with movie studios Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group to launch a next-generation digital rights management model that supports the industry’s fledgling UltraViolet digital distribution platform.

The four companies announced that they have pooled their resources into the Secure Content Storage Association, a new company that will produce the in-development (and working titled) Phenix. The system will support both 1080p HD video and new releases.

“The vision for this new product is to store, play and back up in the cloud personal and professional content,” said Mike Dunn, President, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “The device renders content up to 10 times faster than over-the-top internet.”

Western Digital Branded Products CTO Bert Hesselink promised that the new system will be as easy as putting a Blu-ray disk inside a player.

“The SCSA solution will allow the consumer to store high definition purchased content, including copies of certain DVD content, in a secure, consumer-owned digital home library on a hard drive, along with their personal photos, music, and videos,” said Hesselink.

The solution comes with a welcome twist to the usual DRM formula: those who download licensed content to either hard disk or solid state drives won’t always need to be signed online to access it. The only requirement will be that whatever device consumers wish to move it to is Phenix-enabled — whether that’s an Xbox, notebook, desktop PC or tablet.

Offering convenience has remained a big hurdle for content providers who fear for their bottom lines. Providing customers with easy access to their purchased content across several devices could go a long way to address misgivings with DRM, which typically serves only to annoy legitimate buyers while having little to no effect on pirates.

UltraViolet, which launched last October with the support of Paramount, Sony Pictures and, yes, Warner Bros., recently started selling digital content without requiring the purchase of a physical copy. Some, however, have criticized the service’s pricing structure, noting that it asks way too much for old movies. (via IT World)