FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
It is important to keep in mind that digital rights management, or DRM, is an umbrella term that covers any technological means by which a copyright owner seeks to preserve his or her Constitutional rights. Technology is neutral, what matters is intent of use. With DRM, the intent of use is providing a set of permissions to consumers at a set price point. Naturally, a model that allows all uses upon purchase is going to cost more, for example, than a model that allows only a narrow one. Also, a copyright owner might have concerns with a model that offers all permissions if it invites the possibility that the work will later find its way to many others who have not purchased the work and lack legal permissions. DRM, in other words, enables new business models. There has been great pressure on copyright owners in the last decade to develop new, legal distribution and presentation methods of creative works to consumers, and DRM is allowing that to happen in full force. Whether the work is downloaded or streamed, alone or bundled, purchased or legally free, we have never had so many choices available. Every day copyright owners choose how to use DRM, or choose not to use it at all. The system is working. Placing burdens on the implementation of technology to manage copyright owners’ rights would retard this growth. Every creative industry has its own business models, methods of distribution, and tradition of rights authorizations. We must be very careful when addressing DRM because criticism of one specific technology or model or creative work should not automatically be applied to other technologies or models or creative works. Questions about DRM, its implementation and disclosure should be addressed case-by-case rather than casting a wide net across a neutral technology empowered by law to assist copyright owners.