ITU-IEC produces metadata standard for cross-platform IPTV

Thursday, May 16th, 2013
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Cooperation between the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has produced a new metadata standard to enable rights information interoperability in IPTV services. The standard provides a framework for communicating data such as that accompanying material under copyright, to ensure that multimedia content can be shared legally across different platforms.

Recommendation ITU-T H.751 “Metadata for rights information interoperability in IPTV services” is technically aligned with IEC 62698 “Multimedia home server systems – Rights information interoperability for IPTV”. The parallel standard is the product of collaboration between experts from IEC Technical Committee 100 (Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment) and ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia coding, systems and applications).

“Metadata” refers to data describing aspects of other data, or information about information presented in the form of “structured, encoded data that describe characteristics of information-bearing entities to aid in the identification, discovery, assessment and management of the described entities” (Recommendation ITU-T Y.1901).

IPTV metadata is information on multimedia services and content which provides a descriptive and structural framework for managing IPTV services spanning television, audio, video, text, graphics and data. “Rights information metadata” in particular refers to information on the rights granted to end-users of multimedia content, stipulating pre-defined ‘utilization functions’ including permissions to view/hear, copy, modify, record, excerpt, sample, store or distribute content; restrictions on times or hours content can be played, viewed or heard; and obligations such as payment.

To date, a lack of interoperability in rights information metadata has meant that consumers are at risk of being locked into solutions offered by a single service provider. A user’s purchased rights to multimedia content are dependent on and bound to the rights held by the service provider. In addition, service providers employ different technologies and systems in the management of digital content and associated rights information.

ITU-T H.751 | IEC 62698 provides clear mechanisms or rules for flexible digital distribution that allows for simple exchanges of content, enabling service providers to implement common interpretation and integration of rights information. The standard targets interoperability to ensure that service providers and device manufacturers can easily exchange rights information across their current content management systems. It gives the high-level specification of the metadata for rights information interoperability (RII), defining the common semantics and core elements on RII. In other words, it finds the greatest common denominators in rights expressions (syntactic embodiments of rights) to encourage the mutual use of rights information.

The standard also specifies rights-related information – such as ‘content ID’, ‘permission issuer ID’ and ‘permission receiver ID’ – used to bridge between rights-related metadata. The rights information covered by ITU-T H.751 | IEC 62698 includes rights- and security-related metadata described in Recommendation ITU T H.750 High-level specification of metadata for IPTV services.