PARIS MPEG pioneer Leonardo Chiariglione is launching a new international initiative which aims to break the digital media logjam.
Chiariglione, founder of the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) that brought digital compression technologies to consumers and the PC and communication industries, said he is leaving CSELT, the corporate research center of Telecom Italia Group. He was the vice president of multimedia.
Simultaneously, Chiariglione has launched Digital Media Project as a non-profit organization. Anticipating membership from companies around the world, the initiative will seek solutions for breaking up the current digital media logjam created by technical, political, legal and economic differences. Another goal is "helping the digital media revolution take hold," said Chiariglione.
Chiariglione said that although digital technologies may have luanched huge and profitable industries such as information technology, ICs and digital communications, no one has so far found a way to profit from so-called "digital media."
In an interview, Chiariglione said, "In 1988 when I launched MPEG, the digital media business was not possible because there was no technology. Today we have the technology, but we still have no profitable business."
Illustrating the lack of progress, he added, "End users get none of the claimed benefits of digital media, business players are finding none of the opportunities they were promised and public authorities' desire to offer citizenship the benefits of technology is stalled."
Chiariglione's frustration stems in large measure from his experience as executive director of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), which is currently on hiatus after having reached no consensus on proposals for technologies to be used in the protection of digital music. If anything, MP3 has shown how the expectations of digital content rights holders clash with those of billions of users.
Despite a slew of cross-industry efforts launched since 1998, including Open Platform Initiative for Multimedia Access (OPIMA), SDMI and MPEG-21, Chiariglione said they are "important but not enough." He added, "To remedy past deficiencies and speed up exploitation of new technology results we need a Digital Media Project."
The group will begin by drafting a "Digital Media Manifesto" to establish a common framework for the project. Chiariglione said the manifesto's goal is "to identify the issues and the work plan." He expects the plan to be completed in a few months.
The group then hopes to come up with the first results within a year, "because the industry is in such a need of results," he added.
Chiariglione declined to name companies or organizations likely to participate in the Digital Media Project. However, he said, "The responses I have received in the first hours after launching the project, and some of them from major company representatives, are very positive."