New business models and flexibility offered by DRM
I found the issue of new business models and flexibility offered by DRM to be incompletely articulated in the report. I personally believe that there can be HUGE value to users in getting something less (in usage rights) than what the content industry is afraid to distribute in wide circulation (that being the freely copiable personal copy like the CD disk is today). If it is a good deal, users can accept something less than permanent and something that is less than freely transferable. This does assume that prices also come down from the early trial phase that we are witnessing now. In fact, I expect the prices to go down so far that users will consume content like they consume electricity: without thinking how much a minute costs but turning it off when finished – like they turn off lights when they go out.

Also, the flexibility will be in the incredible selection (see on this the Wired magazine article by Chris Anderson 2004 "The Long Tail") and in the tailoring to changing needs and tastes: having a constantly updated top 100 songs in your pocket is flexibility even if you cannot transfer any of those tracks to another device...

Now, if prices do not come down so far, then I trust the consumer advocates will make a big noise... .

Consumer expectations that really matter
Consumers do not really need detailed transparency, they do not want to dread the small print of what consumption possibilities are offered when they buy content online. Instead, they need simplicity and predictability of stable, balanced, well defined typical consumption offerings. In my view, the “small print” and the detailed scope of the typical offerings should be negotiated by all stakeholders. The result should be as familiar as a train ticket: you do not read the fine print when you buy one. But you have a pretty clear idea about the main variables: monthly pass, 2nd class return, 2nd class one way. Or all-you-can-eat Eurailpass etc! You get the idea. Now 3,000 service providers are inventing the same packages in s-l-i-g-h-t-l-y different ways and it will drive consumers crazy.

Against the myth that DRM is a privacy issue
Privacy is relevant for DRM-enabled services. But this concern is generic to all digital services, it is not DRM specific. The INDICARE paper has far too great emphasis on privacy aspects, as if DRM was a bigger threat to privacy than (for instance) eBay or electronic banking or credit card statements. The privacy aspect is whether a service accumulates personally identifiable information and how it handles that information. DRM per se does not generate PII (Personally Identifiable Information). Nor do DRM systems typically “track” users and what they do with the content – instead they just limit the functionality of content received by users. The main linkage DRM has to privacy is that it includes support for digital identities: Device identity, domain identity (e.g. a home of several devices) and even personal identity (if a person's name is linked to a subscription ID like an Internet username and PIN). But similar identities are in use in almost all Internet services. So let's not continue the myth that DRM necessarily is a privacy issue. Some SERVICE models can be BIG privacy issues (like TiVo which collects viewing habits and begins to suggest similar programs; Amazon does this too). But these are based on non-DRM aspects of those services.

Bottom line
Rethinking flexibility, transparency and privacy in a long term perspective would further improve the quality of the INDICARE State-of-the-Art-report.

Sources
  • Anderson, Chris: The Long Tail. Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream. Wired Magazine at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail_pr.html
  • Helberger et al. (2004): Helberger Natali (ed.); Dufft Nicole; Gompel, Stef; Kerényi, Kristóf; Krings, Bettina; Lambers, Rik; Orwat, Carsten; Riehm, Ulrich: Digital rights management and consumer acceptability. A multi-disciplinary discussion of consumer concerns and expectations. State-of-the-art report, Amsterdam, December 2004; http://www.indicare.org/soareport

About the author: Timo Ruikka is Vice President, Industry Initiatives at Nokia’s technology Platforms unit. Contact: timo.ruikka@nokia.com

Status: first posted 07/03/05; licensed under Creative Commons
URL: http://www.indicare.org/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=83