Wednesday, December 01, 2004

ECP meeting on Digital Rights Management

Today I visited the yearly ECP.NL meeting in the Hague. ECP.NL wants to enforce the Dutch international position using electronic means. Todays' meeting was on the Digital Rights Management(DRM). First, what is DRM? "Some kind of electronic system that allow producers to establish copyright and enable the use of the material" according to a representative of the Dutch Department of Justice. "A contractual arrangement other then copyright, because rules may differ per contract AND the ability of a technical system to control the kind of use the consumer is making of the material" according to sollicitor Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm. So, not a clear agreed upon definition yet. In such cases I like to name some common seen characteristics of DRM:
- A set of business rules
- on several kinds of uses people can make of content
- of which a contractual arrangement is concluded
- translated into a technical script enabling the producer to control that only the agreed on use of material is executed and no other than that.

The motives for developing DRM are very much coming from the content industry (mainly music and more and more film) trying to find cures for the fast eroding profits on copyrights because of illegal copying of digital material. With DRM the industry is hoping to solve this problem.. and get people back into paying for music and film. As a content producer I also want material to be protected and in some way paid for, but.. The development of DRM is based on restoring a situation that can never be restored again, that of a mighty music and film industry dictating 'mechanical revenues'; revenues from CD and DVD sales. The situation is changing towards an industry much more dependant on 'synchronisation revenues'; revenues from the use of music in other channels, games, mobile phones. Crossmedia revenues other then selling purely the music. Another important issue not considered is that of the consumer getting more interactive and thereby changing from consumer to producer. What is the juridical situation here? Is this content coming from interactivity still the proprietary domain of the producer starting a story or is the input the property of the consumer/producer? What is the measure for eventual shifting ownership of content?


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