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Electronics Firms Seek Skeleton Key

January 19, 2005|Jon Healey | Times Staff Writer

Four leading consumer electronics companies are joining forces to develop a standard way for television sets, portable video players and other devices to share copy-protected entertainment.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co. and Sony Corp. are expected to announce the joint effort today. Much of the technology will come from a fifth member of the group, Intertrust Technologies Corp. of Sunnyvale, Calif., which develops rights-management software, Intertrust Chief Executive Talal Shamoon said.

The effort, dubbed "Marlin," aims to solve a growing problem in home entertainment: the hodgepodge of electronic locks that are restricting the use of digital music, movies and games. The specifications being developed by the group will let manufacturers build devices that can share locked files with other manufacturers' gear.

There are several other players in this field, including Microsoft Corp., that hope to provide a universally accepted method for copy protection. The group to be announced today, however, is the only one to have so many large consumer electronics companies on board.

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