When I first made comments about the digital rights package being used in Microsoft's Zune portable media player a few months back I noted how it was a bit like a lightweight version of the Weed rights management scheme that uses Microsoft's Media Player as its platform. Weedshare files can be played by someone receiving them a few times and then can be purchased if the recipient wants continued access - with the person forwarding a file receiving a small royalty.
Now paidContent.org notes that Microsoft has acquired the license to the patents underlying the Weedshare system, with the presumed intention of extending the model used on the Zune to include the extensible ecommerce models supported by Weed - as well as picking up access to content produced by independent artists already using the Weedshare system.
While Rafat notes that this great rights management system is tied to the thus far regrettable Zune platform, the Weed capabilities are easily extended to any platform that can support Windows Media Player-compatible files. So be it PCs or any portable player equipped with this capability, Microsoft has positioned themselves with a great tool to provide a real reason for using the Windows Media file format as an alternative to Apple - and a real reason for any content that can play in that format to adopt WMF as a dominant standard for premium content.
Chalk this one up as **THE** entertainment media play for 2006 in digital rights management, positioning Microsoft very strongly to take advantage of users as distribution agents and value-add resellers of premium content. To all those who lollygagged while Microsoft plucked this plum up, you may be licking your wounds for a while come 2007. Congratulations to the folks at Weed for hanging in there and developing the most effective user-oriented rights management scheme to date.