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DRM: A Skeptics View

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A presentation given at a recent ALPSP Tech Update event.

A presentation given at a recent ALPSP Tech Update event.

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  • There’s been a huge amount written and debated about DRM over the last few years. Mostly with reference to online music and video. There have been extreme views expressed both for and against DRM, and it can be a difficult debate to get involved with because views are so polarised. Today I’m going to take my own sceptical look at DRM and try and highlight some of the pitfalls and problems areas. And particularly where DRM is being over-hyped and over-sold. There’s certainly plenty to take issue with, but I want to tackle two areas in particular. To help highlight what those are, lets have a quick look at a couple of definitions of what DRM is.

DRM: A Skeptics View DRM: A Skeptics View Presentation Transcript

  • DRM: A Skeptic's View Leigh Dodds Chief Technology Officer, Ingenta
  • What is DRM?
  • What is DRM? “ a collective name for technologies that prevent you from using a copyrighted digital work beyond the degree to which the copyright owner (or a publisher who may not actually hold a copyright) wishes to allow you to use it” -- Michael Godwin, Digital Rights Management: A Guide For Librarians
  • What is DRM? Any technology used to protect the interests of owners of content and services (such as copyright owners). Typically, authorized recipients or users must acquire a license in order to consume the protected material—files, music, movies—according to the rights or business rules set by the content owner. -- Microsoft Security Glossary
  • The Two Goals of DRM Enabling New Business Models Stopping Unlicensed Usage
  • Stopping Unlicensed Usage
  • Protecting Content: The DRM Spectrum Weak Strong “ Social DRM” Fingerprints Watermarks Encryption Usage Limits
  • Does Strong DRM Work?
    • No DRM system is completely secure
    • There are always loopholes
      • E.g. the “analog loophole”, printed materials, etc
    • DRM thwarts casual theft, not commercial piracy
    • All strong DRM is eventually broken
    • Cost of breaking only needs to be borne once
      • ...put the publisher keeps on paying
  • Issues with Strong DRM
    • User Support
    • Preservation and Archiving
    • Fair Use
    • Expensive
    • No Interoperability
    • What exactly is being sealed and delivered?
  • Is Theft Really a Problem? Can it even be a good thing?
  • The Secrets to Porn Success
    • “ ...there are several things that are unique about Internet porn that make it significantly more resistant to piracy
    • Watermarked Content
    • Regular Updates
    • Niche Content
    • In short, if a site produces regularly updated, high-quality niche content that is easily recognized as it is passed around. File sharing and piracy might not become the major issues they once were.”
      • -- What Porn Can Teach Us About “Piracy”, Plagiarism Today
  • Enabling New Business Models
  • Enabling New Business Models Abandoning DRM now will unnecessarily doom all consumers to a "one size fits all" situation that will increase costs for many of them. -- Fred Amoroso, CEO Macrovision
  • What new models does DRM enable?
    • Right to use content on more than one device
    • Right to share or re-distribute content
    • Time-limited usage
    • Usage limited (e.g. 10 times)
    • Subscription model
  • But wait, what about?
    • Consortia deals?
    • Content age dependent pricing?
    • Content type dependent pricing?
    • Bundling and re-packaging?
    • Disciplinary differences?
    • ...or indeed any knowledge of academic publishing business?
  • Innovating without DRM
  • Innovating without DRM
  • The Real Challenges I would like nothing more than to have DRM technology just fade away. After all the main challenge we have in digital publishing is to get it adopted by mainstream consumers. And the main challenge 98% of book authors and publishers have is to get people to be aware of their books, not to prevent piracy. -- Bill McCoy - General Manager, ePublishing Business, Adobe
  • Conclusions
    • Use weak or “social DRM” to discourage casual theft
    • Experiment with business models
      • … but you don't need DRM to do that