DRM is only the tip of the Rights Management iceberg
So far it seems we have only focused on the brouhaha that surrounds DRM, and perhaps rightly so, because it directly affects Joey public and his/her perception of content ownership. However there is a much more far-reaching issue that could become an even greater headache for content owners in general and this is the whole question of Rights Management. Now where are the lifeboats?
The commercial aspect of the content economy is made up of organisations and businesses that acquire and use or sell content (or a license to its use). These activities are normally governed by national / international copyright law and the commercial frameworks applicable to the specific industries (e.g. music, broadcast, film and publishing etc.). As with most things, the internet has had a disruptive impact on these activities especially in the following ways:
- Established content businesses have to adapt to an overall increase in the speed of doing business (e.g. instant global content distribution at the click of a button).
- New ways of using and reusing content are constantly evolving off the back of internet / broadband / wifi / mobile technologies (e.g. social networking/User generated content)
- Increasingly antiquated copyright laws and commercial frameworks are not reflective of the times we live in (hence the repeated calls for a review of the global copyright system)
The reaction of the content industry to these challenges are varied, but not fast enough it would seem, because many organisations are only just beginning to implement the Rights Management systems that will address these challenges, and hopefully see them through the interesting times ahead.
The perceived problems with DRM are only a small part of the complete mess faced by the digital content economy, yet we are subject to relentless coverage of them. In my opinion, The relationship between DRM and Rights Management is akin to an iceberg whereby DRM is the 1/10th visible portion above the waterline, and Rights Management makes up the 9/10th lurking below the surface and invisible to the content industry’s Titanic. I don’t wish to sound alarmist, but does anyone know where the lifeboats are located?