Moving from DRM to ISP-RM
Last month the BBC news website reported that six major UK ISPS had reached an agreement with the music industry to tackle content piracy by monitoring and sending out warning letters to suspected illegal file sharers. Given other similar recent proposals (e.g. 3 strikes rule), and the dismal failure of media DRM, one can’t help but ask the question: is this merely a transition from DRM to “ISP-RM” and will it meet a similar fate?
This above voluntary agreement is centred around a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), drawn up by the UK Government department for Business and Enterprise Regulatory Reform (BERR), and will involve mass mailing of notification letters to suspect illegal file sharers (including download and upload), and subsequent bandwidth throttling for “hardcore” or persistent file sharers. Now this is all well and good until we start to think about the practicality and implications for various stakeholders (i.e. whose interests are best served by this initiative) based on the following top-of-head analysis of desirable outcomes:
- Creative Stakeholders (i.e. artistes and content creators – not necessarily rights owners. E.g. musicians, performers, producers etc.) – More economic benefits derived from their works as a result of reduced piracy directly from this initiative
- Technology Stakeholders (i.e. providers of content access and consumption services e.g. ISPs and device makers) – Reduced exposure to risk of legal threats / actions by content rights owners
- Commercial Stakeholders (i.e. content rights owners and their representative organisations e.g. BPI and MPAA) – Reduced piracy and a better return on investment from content IP
- Governance Stakeholders (i.e. lawmakers and enforcers e.g. the UK Government and legal practitioners) – A better more functional implementation and enforcement of digital IP / eCopyright system
- Consumer Stakeholders (i.e. consumers and end-users of digital content) – Assured quality of service from their Broadband provider and reduced risk of legal action by content owners for infringement
Hmmm…, everyone wins it would appear; but cynics might suggest that some stakeholders stand to win more than others (as usual) and they won’t be far wrong. However, the real question should be about which stakeholder group/s has the most power to derail the whole arrangement, and to what extent they have they been consulted / involved in this initiative.
And now a word from the Cylons:
On lighter note, I think the Cylons may have the best, albeit device oriented, philosophy and explanation / clarification of the problems with DRM and other digital content control mechanisms, as shown on the YouTube video.
I look forward to your comments on this one!