A universal unique identifier scheme is being developed for audiovisual media to streamline digital distribution. The Entertainment Identifier Registry, EIDR, is being led by MovieLabs, CableLabs, Comcast and Rovi, backed by a number of American studios, although it is also inviting international participation. Operating on a non-profit, cost-recovery basis, it aims to provide the equivalent of an ISBN reference for individual audiovisual assets.

EIDR has been developed to address the need for a universal identification system for all types of audiovisual assets in the entertainment industry, making it easier for businesses to search, track rights and report revenue based on the unique identifier of an asset. The expected results are increased accuracy of information for consumers and more efficient back office processes.

“Most companies today are either using proprietary or disparate organic systems to catalogue their entertainment assets, making the process of tracking content across multiple systems very difficult,” said Steve Weinstein, the president and chief executive of MovieLabs. “EIDR can provide the missing communication link between businesses.” The initiative is currently dominated by American media interests, but he said “We look forward to expanding EIDR membership to companies throughout the global content ecosystem, which we think is critical to the success of the effort”.

“A standard, low-cost approach for content ID is needed as the industry continues to move towards providing consumers with access to content anywhere, anytime and on any device,” said Dr Paul Liao, the president and chief executive of CableLabs. “EIDR will help our members deliver content to their subscribers through their video initiatives, including TV Everywhere.”

Initial members of EIDR include movie studios and distributors Deluxe, Neustar, Paramount, Sony, Universal, Walt Disney and Warner Bros, as well as the Motion Picture Association of America.

Members of EIDR will have open access to the registry and be able to supply media to the registry for identification. For distributors, access to unique identifiers will help eliminate confusion between assets with same name or different cuts of the same video, helping to ensure that the right products are distributed to the consumer.

The identifiers used within EIDR will function similarly to universal product codes that are used to identify physical packaged goods and the ISBN code for books. The registry will catalogue and assign a single, unique unit of identification to movies and television assets, from entire films down to clips and compilations, both for physical and digital video media, including different audio and video encodings.

EIDR will interoperate with other identifier systems, such AD-ID, which is used to identify adverts. It aims to provide a core service to vendors who wish to develop extended offerings such as rights management and extended metadata services. The EIDR data model can be readily extended to cover new and emerging objects and relationships as the industry evolves over time.

At the most basic level, an EIDR is registered for a ‘work’. EIDRs for new objects can be derived from it or associated with a previously registered object. The reference is purely functional, without any implication of ownership. Each EIDR will be an opaque identifier string, consisting of a standard prefix, a unique suffice for each asset and a check digit, for instance: 10.123/1234-5678-9ABC-DEF0-K.

The registry will be a single centralised database, organised into a hierarchical reference system that links relevant pieces of media to one another. It is being developed as an open, standards-based effort built on the established Digital Object Identifier system, created by the International DOI Foundation. Some 50 million DOIs have been assigned and the system is used by around 10,000 organisations worldwide.

EIDR will also use the open-source registry software from the Corporation for National Research Initiatives. “Our technology was specifically developed for the management of very large numbers of digital objects on the internet and its use in EIDR can be of great benefit to the entertainment industry,” said Dr Robert Kahn, the president and chief executive of CNRI. “The use of DOIs and the underlying Handle System technology, coupled with CNRI’s recently released Digital Object Registry software, will significantly advance the management of audiovisual objects and their complex relationships on the internet.”

Web service application programming interfaces will provide support for developers of third-party applications and services, such as workflow integration, reporting, and enhanced metadata.

Partners will also be permitted to take a snapshot of the registry and mirror it internally to meet their own business and technical needs.

The EIDR coalition is organised as an industry non-profit governed by a Board of Directors representing industry stakeholders, supported by a Technical Advisory Board consisting of representatives from members of the coalition. The registry is inviting participation from other representatives of the international movie and television digital distribution ecosystem.