Wednesday, January 09, 2008

EU to adopt DRM policy?

(via Becky Hogge and others) The European Commission released last week a statement in which it seems to advocate for more DRM across Europe. Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner for the Information Society and the Media, commented that:

"We have to make a choice in Europe: Do we want to have a strong music, film and games industry? Then we should give industry legal certainty, content creators a fair remuneration and consumers broad access to a rich diversity of content online. I will work on these issues with my colleagues in the Commission and propose a Recommendation by mid-2008 on new ways for achieving a single market for online content. I ask in particular Europe's consumer associations to take a very active part in this debate. Because for online content, the demand and preferences of 500 million potential consumers are the strongest arguments for achieving new solutions at EU level."
Brave words. How does the Commission pretend to achieve this goal of strengthening content providers? Amongst other things, they intend to create a transparent DRM framework! They say, and I quote:
"Interoperability and transparency of Digital Rights Management systems (DRMs) – Technologies that support the management of rights and the fair remuneration of creators in an online environment can be a key enabler for development of innovative business models. Lengthy discussions amongst stakeholders have yet to lead to the deployment of interoperable and user-friendly DRM solutions. The Commission therefore seeks to establish a framework for DRM transparency concerning, amongst others, the interoperability of different DRMs, and ensuring that consumers are properly informed of any usage restrictions placed on downloaded content, as well as of the interoperability of related online services." (emphasis mine)
This is an incredibly misinformed paragraph. The Commission assumes that DRMs are key for remuneration of online content providers, but this wild assumption is not based on any evidence whatsoever. They then recognise that there really has not been any user-friendly and interoperable DRM solution, which sort of contradicts the previous statement. How do they know that DRM can help creators if they recognise that such a system has not worked in the past? The Commission then tells us that the solution to the perceived lack of interoperable DRM is even more regulation!

Here is some free advice for the Commission. DRM has passed on, is no more, it has ceased to be, it has expired and gone to meet its maker, is a stiff, bereft of life, it rests in peace, its metabolic processes are of interest only to historians, it's shuffled off this mortal coil, it's run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible!

The Commission does not need to create a framework for DRM interoperability, the market has killed it off. Spend our taxes in something more productive. May I suggest regulating dwarf tossing once and for all?

BTW, Defective By Design has a campaign on this subject.


Ian Brown said...

Hello TechnoLlama from llamaland! Sadly will be leaving Cusco today...

You can be sure when the Commission talks about strengthening the European content market, what they really mean is strengthening IP rights.

As you said: DRM is dead. It seems only the Commission is yet to realise this.

saurabh said...

I support the change. As content creators with a focus on new and emerging media, we understand the challenges surrounding the monetization ability of digital content. In this light the debate around protecting content from ‘unauthorised’ downloads / usage has intrigued me right from the beginning both as a consumer as well as a creator.
While iTunes and more recently even sections of Bollywood have been able to sell DRM protected content and reaped moderate benefits, introducing the idea of ‘paid’ digital media to consumers, DRM implementation is still hobbled by lack of universal standards, high costs and overstated efficacy.
I strongly feel Internet is a beautiful medium to help content travel to various markets and demographics. Instead of locking it down be prepared to re-purpose / re-orient your product to any distribution channels such as Mobile or even Print.

(comments posted by: saurabh@phonethics)