Streaming media is a cornerstone of the future entertainment industry. Several media giants have teamed up to create the eXtensible Media Commerce Language (XMCL)—a new open standard being developed to help the business of online media commerce, the most high-profile sector purchasing music and video online. Here’s a look at the goals and features of XMCL.

What is XMCL?
XMCL is being developed by several industry heavyweights, including RealNetworks, Napster, and MGM. The new XML application is being designed to facilitate a standard protocol for exchanging information regarding online commerce of media products. Most of the media products currently available include audio and video formats.

Helping DRM
One of the goals of XMCL is to help control Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM is the process of understanding what’s happening with digital content that is usually available on the Internet. Because digital content can be copied without any degradation, bootlegging digital media has accelerated beyond the control of many media companies (e.g., Napster). Using XMCL, the industry hopes to better manage who is doing what with each digital media product and reap the benefits of an attached revenue stream.

Providing information with the media content
Ideally, XMCL will provide protocols for the entire digital media rights process, including content creation, packaging, publishing, distribution, licensing, and finally, consumption. XMCL will provide XML-based content for information regarding product rental, subscription, and ownership.

XMCL will allow a content provider to issue a license to a user, permitting the licensee to use the media product for a period of time and/or a certain number of “playbacks.” A typical XMCL implementation will include a trusted playback system, which will enforce the rules described in the XMCL document before allowing the user to view the digital media.

More info
For additional information about XMCL, visit its Web site. There, you will find details about the project, which companies are involved, and how you can contribute. The site also includes press releases, a Q&A section, and a copy of the current working specification.

As digital media has become more mainstream, the issue of controlling content has become problematic. RealNetworks and other media industry experts have teamed up to create an XML solution called XMCL. Their hope is that XMCL will help standardize the buying and selling of Internet-based digital media.