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Archive for December, 2007

Record labels now wish to encourage MP3 sharing

December 19, 2007 Leave a comment

At last it would seem that common sense has come home to roost, and we even suggested this eventuality in a previous posting right here on this blog. Don’t you just love it when these predictions come true?

A recent Slashdot article reported that the big four record companies (Warner, SonyBMG, EMI and Universal) have now signed deals with imeem.com, a social networking destination where users share media content, in return for a share of advertising revenue. Unfortunately however, this may be a severe case of too little, too late for the labels in view of the ongoing downturn and resulting job cuts.

So, how will this play out and who will be the winners and losers in the unfolding scenario going forward? As usual, I’d like to make a prediction using my stakes pie chart, (P.S. based on recent feedback, I must re-iterate that the stakes pie chart only reflects my individual opinion). So here goes:

MP3 File Sharing

Disclaimer: The above ‘Stakes Pie’ chart is intended only to convey an individual opinion

And the winners are:

  • Commercial Stakeholders – Record labels (ad revenue and increased circulation), Social Networking Websites (increased traffic / usage -> more ad value / revenue)
  • Creative Stakeholders – Increased exposure to consumers
  • Consumer Stakeholders – Increased choice and less restrictions

Comments most welcome.

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Missing data: An opportunity for Enterprise DRM?

December 13, 2007 Leave a comment

The recent spate of missing computer discs containing personal details of very many individuals, (first by the HMRC and, more recently, by the DVLA), has crystallised the need for better protection schemes around personal data. This could be a golden opportunity for Enterprise DRM solutions, but how…?

The story so far: Last month saw wide coverage of the fact that two HMRC computer discs, containing some 25 Million user details had been lost in the post; and this month, according to BBC News article, the DVLA also admitted the loss of computer discs, with over 6000 driver details, sent via postal courier services. The common theme seems to be around the transportation of computer records on physical media. In this day and age you might wonder why the data was not simply transferred over some sort of secure network, but that would be too easy. In any case, regardless of transportation method or format, the protection scheme used for such valuable personal information should be both effective and comprehensive enough to prevent unauthorised access / use of protected information. This is where Enterprise DRM solutions could excel for the following reasons:

  1. Enterprise DRM provides persistent protection for content both within, and outside, traditional corporate security boundaries (i.e. even on missing computer discs)
  2. It prevents unauthorised access to protected data, and can make it extremely difficult to use or manipulate content without proper authorisation based on positive user identification
  3. It also has facilities to track and stop further access to, and use of, protected content even ‘in the wild’ so to speak.

Essentially, a properly implemented Enterprise DRM solution would play a significant role in mitigating the risk around misuse of protected data in any future scenarios involving missing discs. However, it can be argued that one obvious weakness would be the complicity of an authorised user in accessing the data, but even that can be easily traced with the built-in forensic capabilities found in some of these solutions. In conclusion therefore, I suspect that these two incidents will help bring home the message that the future of DRM does not lie solely in consumer oriented content or media industries, but that it may also be used to enhance existing security for sensitive content in the enterprise space as well. What do you think?

Social Networking versus Personal Privacy

December 4, 2007 Leave a comment

The recent furore surrounding Facebook’s Beacon is a prime example of the peril faced by operators when they misjudge the fine line between the networking and privacy. It leads users from saying: “I want to share my life…” to “I want to sue for invasion of privacy…”

The story is simple and, according to a BBC news article, relates to Facebook’s introduction of a controversial ad feature / technology, (called Beacon), which monitors and informs other users of your purchases from participating stores. Instead of the usual accolades for far-sighted innovation and initiative, Facebook was met with an angry petition signed by over 50,000 users. Their complaint? Intrusion of privacy!

Now before you ask why a bunch of people who are perfectly happy to share their personal, and sometimes intimate, details with others online should balk at the prospect of publicising their shopping habits, you should consider the following scenario: (reported in the Washington post) where a shopper’s surprise Christmas gift for his wife was published to his network in a news headline that read: “Sean Lane bought 14k White Gold 1/5 ct Diamond Eternity Flower Ring from overstock.com”. Well I suppose it might have been worse, it could have been for his mistress… The upshot of this, according to a Slashdot article, was that Facebook consequently altered Beacon to offer users the ability to Opt-in to using it, instead of being enabled by default.

It was also interesting that a couple of comments on this article picked up on how Facebook’s Terms of Use effectively grants Facebook the right to use and distribute user submitted content “…for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise”, and even though users have the right to remove their content, Facebook may still retain archived copies of the content with the original terms. Makes you stop and think for a minute!

To be fair, in my opinion, the Beacon feature simply makes use of a potential killer combination of online commerce, advertising and social networking, but the execution may have been a bit too pushy / early. Users are not quite ready for that level of openness by default. In any case, the idea has been planted, and I won’t be surprised if it becomes common practice in a couple of years, with the right value proposition for the user such as free music, ringtones or movies etc.