The Digital Media Project  

Source DMP Date:

2004/09/12

Title Comments on Final Report of High Level Group on Digital Rights Management No.

0164r03/AHG03

 

Comments on Final Report of High Level Group on Digital Rights Management

 

This document is submitted by the Digital Media Project (DMP) in response to the request for comments on the Final Report of the High Level Group on Digital Rights Management by “Stakeholders and interested circles”.

DMP is a not-for-profit organisation with the mission to “promote continuing successful development, deployment and use of Digital Media that respect the rights of creators and rights holders to exploit their works, the wish of end users to fully enjoy the benefits of Digital Media and the interests of various value-chain players to provide products and services”.

In the table below:

Column 1 gives the comment number
Column 2 gives the page(s) of HLG report the comment refers to
Column 3 gives the paragraph(s) the comment refers to
Column 4 gives the text of the comment

 

Comment

Page

Para.

Comment

1.

2

4

DMP supports the priority given by the report to "Interoperability requirements".

2.

2

4

DMP disagrees with the use of the expression "users’ expectations" as it makes the report unbalanced.

DMP requests that the report use a more neutral expression such as "Traditional Rights and Usages" instead of "expectations".

3.

5

6

6-7

1

While DMP values Interoperable DRM – and indeed it has placed it at the basis of its technical work – DMP disagrees with the rosy description of the DRM potential. DRM is a technology that is capable of transferring complete control of the way digital content is used to some value-chain users. This could happen in ways that strongly contrast with the way content has traditionally been used. Therefore it can hardly be expected – and the reluctance of some consumer organisations to subscribe to the report is a proof of this – that all users, particularly end-users, will be ready to accept the blind introduction of DRM with all strings attached.

DMP believes that the technical possibilities offered by DRM, even of the interoperable sort, must be balanced by legislative or regulatory intervention – possibly different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction – to accommodate Traditional Rights and Usages. A major work item of the DMP work plan is the "mapping of Traditional Rights and Usages from the analogue to the digital space". In October 2005 DMP will publish a "Recommended Action on Traditional Rights and Usages". Please refer to the list of Traditional Rights and Usages so far identified by DMP.

4.

6

2-5

DMP concurs with the less-than-exciting situation described in "Current Status of DRM in the Marketplace".

DMP points out that while end-users generally perceive DVD as an interoperable content distribution system, none of the current e-content distribution systems has comparable interoperability features.

5.

7

1-6

DMP concurs with the view on the importance of standards.

DMP believes that, more than the nature of standards and the way they are developed, the following two elements are important in a standard

  1. There is an open process to define the requirements used in the design of the standard
  2. Access to the relevant technologies is possible at reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions.

DMP believes that it is vital that the requirements used in designing Interoperable DRM be agreed by the affected parties.

6.

8

1

DMP concurs with the statement "Presently, although standards bodies typically provide liaison between each other, standards geared to different market sectors are arising in a more-or-less independent manner."

DMP disagrees with the report’s view that the liaison mechanism mitigates this problem. The liaison mechanism is simply a tool for a standards body to keep on doing what they think is good for their constituencies, irrespective of what other standards bodies do. This is a perfectly legitimate attitude, but one that clashes with the reality of convergence. As an example, so far no standards body has adopted the MPEG Rights Expression Language (REL) or Rights Data Dictionary (RDD) that the HLG report lauds. Indeed OMA DRM 2.0, mentioned by the report as an example of interoperable DRM, utilises an incompatible rights expressions technology.

DMP believes that it is unlikely that Interoperable DRM can be achieved by simply letting market players choose among DRM technologies, independently developed by different industries and therefore most often incompatible. There is a need for a "system integration" function that can only be achieved as a goal in itself, quite separate from the development of independent DRM technologies. This is the role DMP intends to play with its two work items:

  1. Technical Specification for Interoperable DRM Platform
  2. Technical Specification for Interoperable End-user Devices

that it will publish in October 2005.

7.

8

9

2-7

1

DMP concurs with the view on the importance of compliance. DMP notes that its work plan foresees the publication of "Recommended Practices for End-to-End Conformance" in July 2006.

8.

9

2-4

DMP disagrees with the rosy picture described in the apparently reasonable evolution process of the paragraph: "DRM deployment is starting with the emergence of certain devices that support certain new services. The next stage of evolution will be for devices and services from different providers to be able to be used interchangeably, whilst maintaining an overall level of functionality and security."

DMP believes that the evolution described has few reasons to materialise because end-users have little incentive to leave a world where content can be moved transparently (and is free) for one where content has unusual limitations (and people must pay for it). Interoperability cannot be a feature that will be added to DRM "in due course" as a prized reward to consumers for their forbearance, it is something that is either part of the "DRM package" from the onset or DRM is going to be rejected, as it is being rejected by consumer organisations because they do not see what they gain from it, while they see what they lose with it.

9.

9

2

DMP concurs with the vision espoused by the report of "devices and services from different providers to be able to be used interchangeably" as "the goal of so-called ‘interoperability’".

However, DMP points out that just agreeing on the word "interoperability (of DRM)" and a few examples of it is not enough.

DMP urges the HLG to move beyond reassuring words, define DRM interoperability and develop Interoperable DRM requirements. Different value-chain users have different ideas and these have to be ironed out or means to accommodate them have to be found.

DMP notes that it has issued a Call for Proposals for Portable Audio and Video Devices applied to governed content with associated Interoperability Requirements.

10.

9

4

DMP disagrees with the wait-and-see attitude implicit in the text starting with "At some point along this evolutionary path". Today millions of people are being raised in an environment where the prevailing philosophy is "content is there to grab" and this is happening because there is no real alternative to free content. The heavy-handed legal interventions that are being envisaged may have serious consequences for a society – that we like to call Information Society – where information in all its forms will be the lifeblood linking all its members.

11.

10

1-2

DMP supports the examples of the way "interoperability" is perceived by different value-chain users.

DMP reiterates its request made in comment #9 to engage in a serious effort at defining DRM interoperability and develop its requirements.

12.

10

3

DMP disagrees with the view that "the technical issues (of interoperability) are themselves highly challenging".

DMP believes that the technologies providing DRM interoperability are largely out there already and indeed the DMP work plan seeking to develop Technical Specification for Interoperable DRM is based on this assumption.

DMP points out that what may indeed be challenging is the conversion of business practices induced by Interoperable DRM.

13.

10

3

DMP disagrees with the sentence "In the mean time, partial solutions towards interoperability can be envisaged" for the same reasons as comment #10.

14.

11

3

DMP disagrees with the paragraph beginning with "Participants from all sectors agreed…" for the same reasons as comment #10

15.

12

3

DMP points out that the bulleted list misses an important entry: "Technical Specifications for Interoperable DRM". As pointed out in comment #6 there is a need for a "system integration" function for Interoperable DRM to ever exist.

16.

13

5

DMP concurs with the statement "It is important that DRM ensures and enhances consumer choice". This must be one of the main targets of Interoperable DRM if it is to enable legitimate use of digital technologies.

17.

15

1-2

DMP concurs with the need to review the levy system when Interoperable DRM solutions will be widely deployed. The DMP work plan foresees the publication of a "Recommended Action on Phasing out Analogue Legacies" in October 2005.

18.

15

4

DMP disagrees with the statement "Alternative compensation schemes or similar measures are clearly not the way forward". Modern successful standards are not "monolithic" and Interoperable DRM should just be an integrated collection of interoperable tools that business users assemble to implement their business models using software and hardware from an ecosystem of independent suppliers. If all the business concerns agreeing to set up a value-chain based on "alternative compensation schemes" are happy with it, it will be their choice.