EU initiative to make DRM more acceptable
The European Commission has funded a new project to make Digital Rights Management more acceptable to consumers. INDICARE (the Informed Dialogue about Consumer Acceptability of DRM Solutions in Europe) is distributing its first e-mail newsletter this week. The newsletter includes links to articles on the INDICARE website that are conceived as the starting point for online discussions. Under the E-Content programme 2003-2004 1 million euro is allocated for ‘accompanying measures’ like community building.
DRM-technology is seen by both the Commission and the (multi-)national entertainment industry as the best solution to control copyrights in a digital environment. Civil rights organisations, data protection authorities and consumer unions however are not very keen on giving complete control over their reading, listening and watching habits to industrial parties. Initiatives to integrate DRM in both hard- and software, like the TCPA initiative, have strongly been criticised for violating fundamental freedoms of computer and internet usage.
Apparently, the Commission believes there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea, it only needs some better public relations. The first few articles on the website painfully illustrate how arrogant the industry is currently thinking about citizens as passive consumers. The report ‘A bite from the apple’ about a DRM-conference in New York in April 2004, describes how DRM was re-defined as ‘Digital Richness Management’ by a representative from RightsCom, leaving no doubt about the destination of that wealth.
The report continues: “It was interesting to note that no representatives of consumer organisations or other institutions representing the consumer side were present at the conference. Invisible also were interest groups representing the interests of consumers as citizens in access to information services and infrastructure under affordable, reasonable conditions, and under conditions that respect further public interest objectives. (…) It was even more interesting to note that some of the conference participants clearly welcomed this situation. As Josh Hug, Development Manager at RealNetworks Inc. put it: “Consumers are not represented here, perhaps that is good. They do not have to be. They have already enough power.”
Ross Anderson Trusted Computing FAQ (august 2003)
European Commission Communication on the Management of Copyright and Related Rights (16.04.2004)