FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
DRM as it exists today does nothing but keep things from working. As technology gets more and more complicated, any solutions that make things not work should be seriously scrutinized. DRM based on encryption isn't just a problem for consumers, it's a problem for companies trying to make innovative products. Look at happened with the iTunes and the iPod. Apple was forced to use DRM to get the rights to sell audio content over the internet. The audio content was encrypted such that only Apple products could play the content back. Microsoft went with a slightly more open approach by licensing the DRM. The DRM licensing requirements are often onerous and give too much power to the companies that own the DRM. I would like to see an open DRM that places a priority on interoperability over security. Most digital media formats these days provide for extensible meta data. Such meta data often contains information such as artist and song name for songs or series and episode information for television shows. Players that don't know how to handle various bits of meta data can skip that meta data and still get access to the content. DRM could be implemented as licensing meta-data. Compliant players that understand the licensing meta-data could notify the user if they're viewing unlicensed content and provide information on how to purchase a license. Non-compliant players would simply play the content. Interoperability is king. It increases the value of the content. The people that will not pay for content will always find a way around encryption. When all legal content is burdened by encryption, it decreases the value of the legal content to the consumer. By focusing on consumers that are interested in legally obtaining content, the industry could turn its image around and allow for fast innovation. Companies could produce whole house entertainment products. It would be possible to put DVDs and BluRay movies on a home server so anyone in the house can watch it in any room without getting off the couch or bed and that same content could be moved to a laptop. DRM is really holding the tech industry back. There needs to be a balance between the needs of the rights holders and the needs of the consumers. Current DRM focus entirely on the needs of the copyright holders and totally shafts the rights and needs of the consumer.