Digital Right Management


David Weinberger is moderating a panel on digital rights management. 

Denise Howell spoke about the legal aspects of digital rights management.  She made the point that DRM moves the payment to a per-use rather than a per-copy basis and this changes in fundamental ways, the relationship we have with content providers. 

Bala Vishwanath talked about how newspaper companies tried to discourage people reading someone else's newspaper and failed but succeeded, as a business, by adding coupons, etc. to the paper.

Brad Brunell is the director of trusted platform technologies at Microsoft.  He's the guy whose name I didn't get yesterday at lunch.  He takes abuse well.  Probably a job requirement given what he does and who he works for.  Dave is beating him up a little right now.  The question: why now (for DRM)? 

Ken Kingenstein works for Internet2.   Ken makes the point that analog rights management doesn't translate well into the digital world.  He asks how do we enable appropriate access and use instead of how we control access or protect copyrights. 

Dave makes the point that DRM takes away much of the wiggle room that people have traditionally had with respect to copyright law and makes things rigid.  Brad pointed out that we content providers would have the make a policy that allows that.  I think that this conversation ties in with the quote from Dan Geer I posted yesterday:

If the access control matrix eventually scales out of reach. What then? I submit that where the geometric scaling of access control will kill it in the end, accountability stands ready. This is not to say that I like pervasive, universal accountability, per se, but the only reason a free society works is that you can pretty much do anything though if you screw up badly we will find you and make you pay. Accountability is like that, i.e., it is a log processing problem. 

To date we have used accountability and this shifts the problem to one of access control lists.  That's a seismic change and may not be possible (per Geer).  This will force content providers to default to "lock down" and we'll lose the wiggle room we've traditionally enjoyed. 

Ken makes the point that we've enjoyed 4000 years of anonymous reading and he'd hate to see us lose that.  I agree.