Universal Music Group and Microsoft are among the companies heading up a new advocacy group that is seeking to make it easier for consumers to share and distribute digital content. The formation of th

Universal Music Group and Microsoft are among the companies heading up a new advocacy group that is seeking to make it easier for consumers to share and distribute digital content. The formation of the group, the Content Reference Forum (CRF), was announced yesterday. Other members include cell-phone giant NTT ARM, ContentGuard, Macrovision and VeriSign.

The goal of CRF, representatives say, is to provide a computer architecture and business framework that makes interoperability possible among competing technology standards.

Key to the system would be the sharing of links to acquire content files, rather than the sharing of content itself.

Interoperability is a key element of business ideas such as super-distribution, a concept in which consumers distribute for-pay content to each other via e-mail, instant-messaging applications, cell phones or peer-to-peer networks. Transactions in super-distribution schemes occur outside a traditional retail/service-provider environment.

"Presently, we are unable to efficiently implement systems that can enable new business models," says Michael Miron, CRF president and ContentGuard CEO. "The Content Reference Forum was established to find a solution to this challenge."