Monday, July 24, 2006

Rights Management - The Light at the End of the Tunnel is the Headlight of an Oncoming Train

At our monthly Convergence Conversations last Wednesday, the topic was Content Rights. Which is an oxymoron to start with because if there's one thing most people are not, its content. For record labels and film & tv distribution, the summer of discontent includes the frustration of not being able to shut down all the illegal file sharing (an exercise akin to catching raindrops to keep the ground dry); the direction of businesses like the BBC to make a whole lot of content available free; and the inability of technologies to keep the hackers at bay, just to name a few.

For users, there is immense ague at not being able to play purchased content across devices, the high complexity involved with buying new devices in the data deluge in terms of specifications. Then there is the paucity of service which still plagues the industry.

In all of this, the one interesting point our discussion threw up was that "The Rights Management Problem is not solvable under the current framework". The existing approach, which tackles the problem by going geographically, channel and medium wise and then uses a number of distinct and often complex structure of rights, is (a) outdated (b) too complex and (c) technically and structurally infeasible. Nobody argued that rights should not be protected, simply that it can't be done in the current approach.

As if to support this argument, Yahoo and Sony have just announced the DRM free release of Jessica Simpson's single "A Public Affair". According to Yahoo... "DRM doesn't add any value for the artist, label or consumer"!+and+Sony+release+digital+single+without+DRM.html (may need subscription)

Bad news for Tech vendors, good news for consumers. For the rest of the industry it's time to think.


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