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Minutes from the Session on Critics to DRM

Please refer to the position-papers and slides for authoritative answers. The following minutes are only a snapshot of Presentations and Discussions

Judie Mulholland (Florida State University): Digital Rights (mis)Management

See also the [Slides (ppt)and in HTML ] and the Position Paper

Judie Mulholland started her talk with examples of paradigm shifts. She explained how the development of barbed wire affected the American West. She said, it was a transforming technology. What about today? Rights holders believe that the rights users are eating them alive (e.g., Napster). Rights users tend to view the rights holders as protectively bottling up content. So there is currently a paradigme of rights users versus rights holders. The problems are lively right now because we are at the edge of technology.

We are in front of a lot of questions. E.g. should copying be the action that triggers the payment to holders? But users need to experience goods to know they want them. They need to determine relevance to see if desired, and in order to do that users need access.

Mulholland than described What-if scenarios. First she took the case, where all the current requirements from rights holders are met and enquired, what this would mean for users. Than she did the scenario for the opposite case. In the first case, she stated a risk of a curbing abuse, because there is a preventing overreach of rights holders.

In specifying DRM, we have to look at the orders of magnitude. There are four main forces.

One major challenge would be what she called a type III error: Asking the wrong question or solving the wrong problem.

Also attention (of human) is one natural capacity constraint levels of uncertainty:

As obstacles she mentioned the compensating feedback. This can be summarized with the following sentences trying to frame the issue:

The next point was named Tragedy of the Commons. There are two kinds of feedback: The positive/reinforcing feedback and the negative/goal seeking. The interests of the rights holder are driving one set of forces. The interests of the rights users are driving different forces and can lead to an overshoot and collapse situation

What roles would W3C have to play?

The hope is, that we make a standard for standard setting. That means, that W3C would have to assure, that equity, fairness, interoperability, interconnection are established by that standard. There is also a role for code: Developers are currently writing the rules of the game. They are tacit law-makers. We can see some of it in the open source vs. proprietary discussion. Lessig says, once the lawmakers discover they can lean on the developers they will discover they can regulate behavior.

This can have the following implications: There is a risk of unbundling. Formerly, rights were bundled into a book (physical artifact) when I bought it. Are we heading toward unbundling of rights?
Are we entering the Age of Access? Is there a future disaster caused by the making of today? E.g. Y2K was a result of routine decisions in the seventies.
What are the future directions? What happens to advocacy, collaboration, research and development?

Comment:Add one more statement - user will always take the path of least resistance.

Mark S. Manasse (Compaq), Why Rights Management is Wrong (and What to Do Instead)

See also the [Slides (ppt) ] and the Position Paper

Famous words: Reality is not optional

If we consider mass-market selling, the owners are wrong about what they want, e.g., protection control. There are good reasons why Napster emerged. Trying to enforce protection of content doesn't work and never has. It is a matter of economics: can you design a watermark system (like SDMI) that works across the full spectrum? It is always too easy to remove. Remember the example of selling software a few years ago. The software industry learned that they spent much more money helping customers recover from disk failure than they would have lost from copying. Finally the companies gave up on copy protected disks after having to help lots of users recover from crashes, or move to new computers.

What about Napster? I think that if people are willing to distribute your content for you, it is worth thinking about how to exploit this. I believe that fair or conforming use is best decided by the user and not by software. Problem of setting rights to today's technology is that it locks out new developments. Rights bound to today's technology are unlikely to be useful for future technology. People want to build collections, these express who they are, your music is your identity.

Bits will be freely developed, people will make collections. Now you want to express rights, that is important, a pointer to the rights. At some point it is worth the effort to get a license. Maybe you want it for a better copy, the full CD, or just access to a remote site, whatever. There is nothing special about the bits you downloaded to start with, per se. But the license would be special to you. It would be flexible and portable, may be better than having to move around content. I even wonder if the early, first edition of the licence will have cachet in a collector's market, like first editions of old comic books? In this approach, the distribution chain (like Napster) is compensated along with owners.

This license approach is easier and cheaper to implement than some protective schemes. And I believe it will work in the world we inhabit today.

Comment from floor: adds this value to the license instead of just having the bits: overcomes technology obsolescence, the company gives new versions of things you are licensed to have. Also, reduces problem of migrating your content from your current to your next machine.

Frank Reichwein (Digitale Hanse) Why DRM cannot protect copyrights

See also the [ Slides (HTML!) ] and the Position Paper

DRM systems are closed, once a work leaks out, the protection is broken. People can break thru by screen grabs, etc. To re-establish connections between work and owner, the Internet must be monitored.

The removal of infringing works on the Web can only be forced, if there is positive identification of the infringing party. But how are we to find or identify works, other than manual searches? We need a monitoring engine, that recognizes items from a reference pattern database [available to the monitoring system]. For example, pictures are reduced to vectors and this pattern stored in the database, this would be used for comparison or searching to find infringements. System can work looking for modified copies, for manipulated objects.

If the System finds an object, then the owner may grant a license. If that occurs, the monitoring engine would not search these locations any more. If the item is not deleted, then there could be legal follow-up.

Dan Connolly (W3C): In principle, the sort of monitoring you are proposing can be done individually by any rights owner; it does not need to be centralized. Anything that provides a search interface can be monitored this way. Like trademark holders do today with ebay.

Frank Reichwein (DH):Yes, the benefit of centralized monitoring is sharing.

Question:Can you do this monitoring for Napster and Freenet, or only for the Web?

Answer:Right now, only for the Web. But we're thinking about the others.


Rigo Wenning (W3C): Let me be provocative. Will we lose an ability to maintain human knowledge in our libraries? Are they set back by DRM systems? Will we lose an ability to make fair use, such as photocopying a map to dinner for meeting participants? Is today's copyright system broken? Are we trying to map a broken system into a new system?

Spencer Cheng (Cloakware): the copyright system today is only a little broken, not completely broken. You can photocopy a map.

David Parrot (Reuters): The law is flexible, we fall back and don't always use it. But if there was businesses, that xeroxed maps systematically, then the law would be used to protect the map-maker's business. Rights owners get unhappy when others set up businesses to sell their intellectual property.

Janina Sajka (American Foundation for the Blind, AFB): We do DRM a disservice, if we assume it must start with encryption. This technology is the last point. The moral principal is the first point. We have dynamic systems in society, not static ones. We do still need special technology to read 78rpm recordings and things are being lost as a result.

Melissa Smith Levine (Library of Congress, LOC): regarding taking old metaphors into a new world: Copyright laws have always adjusted to new technologies. Copyright law has reacted to new ways of doing business. Vested interests always work to protect their markets. Copyright is not dead, but equitable balance is currently out of kilter. Licenses and contracts are often impenetrable; they are not written for a normal human being to understand. Joe Consumer sitting in a library trying to read lots and lots of licenses is not practical; there need to be some basic rules that are understood to apply. Licenses will become a piece of your public image; attorneys advise clients, but it is up to the client to decide how much protection they want. LOC is interested in the question of how libraries and society collects. For example, we have a project looking at archiving the Internet. How do we represent society in keeping this record of creativity. We confront issues about this: is it legal, can we trust publisher-partners to keep content on society's behalf. What to do about fair use, first sale, and other balancing factors? The library community's arguments against anti-circumvention are still abstract, not based in experience, which makes it hard for them to be persuasive.

Peter Rodgers (HP): With regard to photocopying maps, there are certain business practices that are accepted. In some nations, there is a payments made thru the Xerox device to compensate owners. Historically concerns arised about a proletariat being able to access anything in the British libraries. Then they discovered, that this was a new market because it increased the sale of books. Similarly, in the US, there was resistance to VCRs from movie companies but later came the realization that this threat increased their revenue.

John Erickson (HP): The user is never well-served when policies are opaque or invisible to them. Those who impose policy have an obligation to those whose experience will be affected by those policies. We need mechanisms to make policies open and visible to users.

Jonathan Schull (Digital Goods): Grey area is a good image. There is a need to express ambiguity, or we may need to express rights in a clear way but apply them in a flexible way. But any rights that are not recognized by DRM systems will lead to systematic opposition. We need to fold in patent rights along with copyright and consumer privacy rights. Shall we have a rights packet, a low-level monadic entity? This is something W3C could do. We need to be able to enforce rights with great flexibility. It is important to create a system in which common sense and fair use can be taken into account.

Chris Barlas (Rightscom): Copyright anarchy exsited up until about 1550. In France, up to 1789, printers had to get a license from the King. The Jacobeans changed this law as it was impeding free flow of information. There are centers of excellence that have been thinking about these problems for a long time. W3C should include them. The discussion will be a long one and a long perspective is required.

Danny Weitzner (W3C): Standards organizations should not lock this down too quickly. It is not yet clear, what we should be trying to implement.

Several speakers called attention to the long history for some of the underlying concerns, threaded thru the development of copyright law in Europe and the UK. It will be a long process, moving onto the digital age. There were also remarks on how other groups, including MPEG, have been focused on DRM for some time.

Sebastian Holst, (Artesia): We tend to see the owner-user relationship as static, but this is not correct. One of our customers is GM, who make $20M per year by resale of ads, photos, engineering drawings. They know what they own. This is in a striking contrast with Time Inc., who often have no idea what their rights are in their old content. They can't sell what they don't know if they own it.

Maximilian Herberger (Unviversity of Saarland): The law succeeds because it is not fully implemented. If we tried to apply law strictly at every moment in every place we would always find infractions. The legal system does not enforce the law in a rigid way. Is there a lesson for DRM? Technology similarly cannot expect to be fully implemented.

Vaughn Iverson (Intel): The law has grey areas specifically to allow common sense to be employed. He than made a reference to the book: The Death of Common Sense

Poorvi Vora (HP): If information is free, then personal profiles are also free. What are the implications?

Steve Stone (Microsoft): It is imporant to make honest markets. We should provide consumers a place to purchase content that honors the rights of the rights holders. We have to educate consumers that stealing is wrong. Encryption is only a small part of technology to protect rights holders. Microsoft thinks, the metadata should be standardized in the industry. Also we should standardize a rights expression language. But we have to proceed with caution. There are a lot of industries at work on these problems, music, software, etc., and they are taking a view broader than the Internet.

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Created by Rigo Wenning February 2001
Last update $Date: 2001/04/19 09:09:13 $ by $Author: rigo $