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EMA Digital Council: Glossary of Industry Terminology


This Glossary was developed on 2008/9 by EMA's Digital Council and is a living document. Please submit updates and additions to mfisher@entmerch.org for vetting through Digital Council.




Adobe Flash Player: A lightweight browser plug-in and rich internet application runtime that delivers consistent and engaging user experiences, stunning audio/video playback, and pervasive reach. It is the foundation of the next generation of Adobe Flash Platform, built on open technologies and open-source community participation.

Ad-Supported Video-on-Demand: Often referred to as AVOD or FVOD (Free VOD), this model includes advertising along with content in some manner and is usually made available to consumers for no fee.


Bundle: A group of related titles sold jointly for a single price.


Codec (Coder/Decoder):  Software or driver that adds support for certain video/audio formats to an operating system.  An operating system using a codec will recognize the format the codec is built for and "decode" it allowing you to play the audio/video file, or in some cases it will change the file format ("encode") allowing it to play.  The most commonly used codecs are installed automatically on most computers.  Examples of codecs are MPEG-2, DivX, and MPEG-1.

Compression Reducing the quantity of data used to represent digtal video images by removing redundancies in digital data files so that less space is required.  Two main forms of compression arelossy and lossless.  Lossless compression takes away only a certain amount of data so that it can be returned to its original complete state, while lossy compression will sacrifice more data to further reduce space.   MPEG-4 is an example of a lossy compression.  

Conditional Download: A file which is fixed into a time-limited or play count-limited download. Usually cannot be burned or transferred and may be deleted or disabled for the end users storage device no later than has been authorized.

Container:  A "wrapper" format that defines how the video, audio and other data is stored within the container, but doesn't define which compression formats or codecs are included with the video file.

Copyright Notice: Indication that the work is copyrighted, the date of the copyright, and the copyright owner. (E.g., "© 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation".) The Copyright Notice is distinct from copyright licensing information. See also Perceptible Copyright Notice.

CSS (Constant Scramble System): The protection system that prevents movies from being illegally duplicated, protecting the intellectual property of the manufacturers, producers and writers of audiovisual content from theft. CSS is a two-part system for which manufacturers of both the movie content and hardware or software (players) purchase licenses. 


DST: Digital Sell Through. See EST

Download:  The process of copying data files from a server to a playback device.

DRM (Digital Rights Management) DRM refers to the administration of usage rights in a digital environment. DRM solutions enforce the business rules set by the content owner often by managing "keys" between users and a server.  

DTO:  Download To Own. See EST.  

DVI (Digital Video Interface): A uniform connector that can accommodate both digital and analog video signals, often used between computers and monitors.  The DVI connector on a device is given one of three names, depending on which signal it implements (DVI-D for digital only, DVI-A for analog only, DVI-I for both digital and analog, and DVI-DL for a connector that includes a second data link for high resolution displays.  ALT: An interface standard for connecting both analog and digital monitors. It offers a high bandwidth for uncompressed digital data transfer, and can carry digital copy protection


EncodeCompressing a file (audio, video or picture) into another format, usually taking up less space.  Common video encoding methods are DivX, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4.

Encryption:  Locking content by applying an algorithm in conjunction with an encryption key.  Encrypted content cannot be viewed unless it is decrypted, requiring the corresponding encryption key.  In most systems, the encryption key and the decryption key are the same, and the key management protocol defines the scheme that is used to securely transfer the key to the intended receiver of the encrypted content.  In public key systems, the encryption and decryption keys are not the same, and knowledge of one doesn't allow the other to be determined.

Episode:  A single part (similar to a chapter) of a series or compilation, usually first distributed via broadcasting, webcasting or podcasting on a single date.

EST: Electronic Sell Through. A licensed reproduction without limitation on the ordinary use and enjoyment of the resulting lawfully made copy. (The "To Own" appendage is a misnomer, given that ownership of the medium onto which a file is downloaded does not change. Anyone who downloads a file under a valid license is the owner of a lawfully made copy, no matter what restrictions may be placed on access to the file.)


Fast Track:  A decentralized P2P network that powers P2P applications.

Fingerprinting:   A technology to protect multimedia from unauthorized reproduction which embeds a unique ID into each user's copy that can be extracted to help identify culprits when an unauthorized leak is discovered.  ALT: An extended watermarking technique which embeds the identity of the end user into the content.   This can be used to trace the source of copyright infringement.


GPRS (General Packet Radio Service):  A non-voice value-added service that allows information to be sent and received across a mobile telephone network, supplementing Circuit Switched Data and Short Messaging Service.


H.264 (aka MPEG-4 Part 10):  A video encoding layer ofMPEG-4, officially known as AVC. 

HD (High Definition): HD comes in three different formats, all in widescreen format (16:9), and provides the highest resolution and picture quality of all digital formats combined with digitally enhanced sound technology. The first (720p) features 720 x 1280 pixel resolution with progressive scanning. The second current high definition format (1080i) features greater resolution (1080 x 1920 pixels), but with interlaced scanning. The third (1080p) is currently the ultimate high definition format, with 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution (in the 16:9 ratio) and progressive scanning. Because of the high bandwidth requirements, this format is not yet used for television broadcasts, although Blu-ray high-definition DVD formats are be capable of a 1080p picture.

HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection):  A specification developed by Intel Corporation to "protect" digital audio and video content as it travels across Digital Visual Interface (DVI) or High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) connections. HDCP protects uncompressed digital content from being transmitted to a non-HDCP compliant device (such as a DVD recorder), as data transmissions are permitted only between HDCP compliant devices connected to each other. 

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) A high-speed serial interface, capable of transmitting standard, enhanced, or high-definition video. The standard supports transmissions of up to 2.2 gigabits per second and resolutions up to 1920x1080p at 30Hz. All data is sent uncompressed, to minimize additional artifacts from recompression - that is, there is no D/A or A/D conversions needed.  Up to eight channels of 192KHz audio are supported. The connector is more compact as well, resembling a USB connector.

HDMI Video Up-conversion:  Converts incoming composite, S-video, and component signals up to HDMI standard.


Internet Protocol (IP):  The format of packets, and the addressing scheme. Most networks combine IP with a higher-level protocol called Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), which establishes a virtual connection between a destination and a source. IP allows you to address a package and drop it in the system, but there's no direct link between you and the recipient. TCP/IP, on the other hand, establishes a connection between two hosts so that they can send messages back and forth for a period of time.

IPTV (Internet Protocol TV):  A system where a digital television service is delivered using Internet Protocol over a network infrastructure, which may include delivery by a broadband connection. Content, instead of being delivered through traditional broadcast and cable formats, is received by the viewer through the technologies used for computer networks.   IPTV is typically supplied by a service provider using a closed network infrastructure. This closed network approach is in competition with the delivery of TV content over the public Internet, called Internet Television.

ISAN (International Standard Audiovisual Number):  A voluntary numbering system for the identification of audiovisual works, providing a unique, internationally recognized, and permanent reference number for each audiovisual work registered in the ISAN system.  The ISAN remains the same for an audiovisual work regardless of the format in which it is distributed.


Licensor: A party granting rights (typically copyrights and rights of publicity) under a license agreement. Includes a Licensee who is authorized to sublicense the rights. Licensors typically grant the right to reproduce or perform the work publicly.

Licensee: A party obtaining rights under a license agreement. 

Licensing Agent: A third party, that may or may not be the Copyright owner, that provides services for or on behalf of Licensee under the Licensee's supervision and in accordance with the terms and conditions of an agreement. Otherwise known as Contractor. 


MPAA (The Motion Picture Association of America): The non-profit trade association formed to advance the business interests of movie studios. Its members include The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers. The MPAA administers the voluntary film rating system.

MPAA Rating: Administered by the MPAA, this rating system is used in the United States and its territories to rate a film's thematic and content suitability for certain audiences. It is one of various motion picture rating systems used to help patrons decide what movies are appropriate for children, for adolescents, and for adults. Current ratings are G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17. Legacy ratings no longer issued include GP, M and X.


Network: The provider of programming to a series of affiliated local television stations. For purposes of metadata standards, it is the local (meaning nation of origin) network that originally broadcast a television series.


P2P (Peer-to-Peer) Networking:  Unlike a network where all network clients make requests to one central server, a P2P network model makes the download requests to other clients.  Once a user logs into a P2P network, the user is immediately both a client and a server simultaneously (though some systems permit "freeloading", wherein the server function is disabled).  Users can download files from other users, and other users can download files from them.  An example is BitTorent first implemented in 2001, wherein a single download may come from multiple servers, each server delivering portions of the file which are assembled as a single file on the user's device.

Pass: Option to download or stream all episodes within an established grouping such as a television series or season.

Perceptible Copyright Notice: A Copyright Notice that can be seen by the consumer at the first point of interaction (e.g. at the point of purchase, at the point of preparing to place a disc in a drive, or at the point of beginning to watch a movie). The manner of making perceptible will vary with the context in which the Perceptible Copyright Notice is required. For example, perceptible on the disc, cover or packaging (in the case of a copy sold or rented); perceptible when the work is performed (in the case of streaming, when performed publicly; in the case of digital delivery, when performed privately); or perceptible in a web browser display (when offered for sale, rental, streaming or download from a website).

Portable Media Player:  A consumer electronics device that is capable of storing and playing digital media. Data is typically stored on a hard drive, microdrive, or flash memory. Sometimes referred to as a portable video player (PVP).

Primary Studio: The production entity with underlying distribution rights to a property in a specific market.

Primary Genre: A type or category of movie or television show (such as drama, comedy, musical, action/adventure, etc)

Pro Res/ Quicktime: Apple's post-production format offering uncompressed HD quality at SD file sizes. Use ProRes 422 when collaborating over an Xsan storage network or working on a portable computer in the field; when working with non-native camera formats; or to preserve maximum quality for composites and demanding color grading work.

Price Per Unit: The price charged by the Licensor for a single unit of a copyright (e.g. price per Reproduction/Download, price per Stream) associated with a given title.

PVD: Permanent Video Download: See EST.


Ratings: A Rating is a code or classification given to a work to alert consumers whether particular attention should be given to the work's suitability for audience members below a particular age level. For purposes of this Glossary, any reference to a "Rating" should specify the rating system to which it refers. For example, "MPAA-PG" to refers the "PG" (Parental Guidance) rating given by the Classification and Ratings Administration of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Roles: Screen names of key characters in a movie or television show.

Run Time: The amount of time from the start of a film or of a television show, through the end including the run of credits.


SD (Standard Definition): Is the basic level of quality display and resolution for both analog and digital, of which the picture is 480 x 640 pixels, with interlaced scanning.

Series: A group of programs created or adapted for broadcast, webcast or podcast with a common series title, usually related to one another in subject or otherwise. Often, series appear once a week during a prescribed time slot; however, they may appear with more or less frequency. Series are usually created to be open-ended, not with a predetermined number of episodes. In a fiction series, the programs typically share the same characters and basic theme.

Silverlight: A web browser plug-in that provides support for rich internet applications such as animation, vector graphics and audio/video playback. Silverlight competes with companies such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, Adobe AIR, Adobe Shockwave, JavaFX, and Apple QuickTime. Version 2.0 brought improved interactivity and support for .NET languages and development tools.

Social Network: An online and social community of people who share interests and activities or who are interested in exploring the interests or activities of others.

Stream A single encrypted digital transmission of an audio or video file solely through the electronic medium and does not produce a fixed file embodying that can be rendered without a simultaneous active connection to the internet other than a temporary file created solely to render such contemporaneous performance as in the form of a data buffer or cache copy.

Studio ID #: Unique identifier assigned by an individual studio for internal tracking purposes.

Street Date: The date on which the Licensor first makes a title available to the public in a specific format. For physical media that cannot be made available to merchants at the same time, "Street Date" refers to the date at which the various merchants agree to make it available to their customers in order to ensure a level playing field, enable targeted promotions and avoid customer confusion as to availability.

Subscription: A business model in which the retail customer may obtain specified goods or services for only so long as a subscription is maintained (typically month to month).

SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand): For a fixed fee, subscribers may have unlimited access to identified streaming content during a specific time period during which the subscription is active, usually one month at a time.

Synopsis: A brief description of the contents of a particular work. The synopsis if most often provided by the publisher of the work for use in promotional materials by other merchants, but may also be prepared independently by any given merchant.


Talent: Key actors/actresses in a movie or television show.

Television Rating: Television Parental Guideline System Rating of a television show, established by the individual broadcast or cable network airing the program. Ratings are VY, TVY7, TVG, TVPG, TV14, and TVMA, and reflect the amount of violent or sexual content and language.

Trailers: Promotional clips of titles when prepared by or for the copyright owner in the title, and which may be separate copyrighted works. (Trailers do not include promotional clips offered as an actual short sample of the work to assist a customer in making selection.) 

Transactional: An agreement between parties to exchange certain rights to content for money.

Transactional VOD: A digital rental of a program for a specified viewing period (such as 24 or 48 hours) for viewing by the consumer when the consumer wants to watch it. 

Transcoding A process that changes the video or audio features of a file, such as the resolution or bit rate, by changing portions of the audio/visual content but not by reconstructing the content (as would be in encoding).  Compressed-domain transcoding also maintains the format of the file.


Uploading: The transmission of a file from one computer system to a server, which results in a reproduction of the work to a second medium specified by the second computer system.


Visually Perceptible Copyright Notice: Notice which contains all the following three elements: (a) the symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr."; (b) the year of first publication of the work; (c) and the name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner.

VOD (Video On Demand): Content either streamed or downloaded to a device such as a computer or set-top box for viewing by the consumer when the consumer wants to watch it. This content may be owned by the consumer or may have been rented for a limited period or number of plays (transactional VOD).


Watermark Technology used to embed information, including content usage rules, securely into a video or audio signals, designed to be imperceptible to the audience.  Watermarks survive and "travel with" content as it is converted from digital to analog form or is re-digitized from analog.  Since they are embedded within the actual content, watermarks are difficult to remove.  However, watermarks do not in themselves protect content - protection is only achieved if devices and products are designed to inspect content for watermarks and to respond appropriately to the rules associated with that watermark. 

Window: A period of time during which a copyright owner exercises its right to do or to authorize one or more of its exclusive rights though one particular channel of dissemination and before authorizing the next channel of dissemination. For example, a theatrical first run window is the period during which a film is licensed for public performances in theaters and before it is distributed on DVD.

Windows Media:  A group of technologies developed by Microsoft including Microsoft's Digital Rights Management tools, Windows Media Video encoding technology and Windows Media Audio encoding technology.  These are proprietary standards similar to MPEG-4.

Windows Media DRM:  ADRM system built into Microsoft's Windows Media Player software found on most Windows-based PCs as well as on many consumer electronics devices.  It is widely used to provide secure Internet delivery of audio and audiovisual content to any device that has that enabled.

WMV (Windows Media Video) Microsoft's proprietary video encoding solutions.

Wrapper:  The format for storing video, audio, and other possible data within a "container".




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