Open Media Network Launches in Public Beta

Apr 29, 2005

A free public service network has been launched in an effort to give users worldwide access to public television and radio programming, movies, podcasts, and video blogs, while protecting the producers' copyrights. Open Media Network (OMN) was founded by Mike Homer (formerly of Netscape) and includes Marc Andreessen as an advisor and board member. The service offers users a broad selection of free public programs with a TV-style program guide and automatic background deliveries of favorite scheduled programming. Content producers can add their programming to the network, with unlimited free delivery of their shows and with digital rights protection. Through the service, consumers can view the content on multiple devices, including PCs and iPods; viewing on televisions and cell phones will be available this summer.

Open Media Network is powered by grid delivery technology from Kontiki, which speeds the distribution of video and music files by allowing participants to share unused bandwidth on their computers and servers. Because OMN uses Kontiki's grid delivery technology, all content is centrally managed. Programs that violate copyright or are unsuitable for viewing can be removed from the network. Kontiki's technology has built-in digital rights management (DRM) through support of the Microsoft Windows Rights Manager and allows publishers to choose whether content can be shared, duplicated, or viewed a set number of times. Future versions of OMN, due this summer, will offer producers a payment system for premium content.

OMN offers entertainment, information and education programming from public television and radio stations that are interested in worldwide distribution of their programs via the Internet. Stations such as WGBH, KQED, and KWSU are among the initial public television and radio stations offering content. OMN also includes new forms of grassroots content, including video blogs and podcasts. Podcasts include WNYC public radio's "On the Media with Bob Garfield," IT Conversations including The Gillmor Gang,, shows from Northwest Public Radio and a host of sports and music programming. Video content includes video alerts, which document and expose human rights abuses across the globe. Independent films, including full-length features, short films, trailers, and full scenes are available. The Cinequest collection includes many full-length features that are available in DVD quality for download. In addition, a variety of films from indie film pioneer are available.

This summer, OMN plans to engage the OMN audience in the ratings, ranking, and organizing of the content library. Producers provide initial information, including parental guidance rating suggestions, and authorize use of their material through Creative Commons licenses. Each viewer then rates the quality of the program through one-to-five star ratings, provides their parental guidance recommendation, and can notify OMN if they identify potential copyright issues. In addition, users can organize their downloaded programs by adding personal tags, or keywords, to their selected content to aid in search and browsing.

The Open Media Network program guide is available online, or is automatically downloaded from any Web site where OMN programming is listed. The user automatically gets OMN with their first video or audio download. They can then use the program guide to choose additional programs to be automatically downloaded in the background. The programs on OMN are authorized for public use by the producers and most are licensed under Creative Commons.