|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] DRM not quite dead yet
|*The U.K. government has rejected a call for digital rights management
to be banned in the U.K., but has acknowledged that the technology could
undermine consumer rights.*
A total of 1,414 people signed an online petition calling for digital
rights management (DRM) -- which places restrictions on how people can
use media such as software or music -- to be outlawed. The petition,
hosted on the U.K. government's e-petitions Web site
, warned that DRM removes the freedom of
choice between competing products offered for digital download or on CDs.
The petition, created by blogger Neil Holmes
, also cited an investigation into DRM
last year by the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group, an independent
Parliamentary organisation. The group demanded safeguards for consumers
against invasive technologies such as the rootkit-like program used by
on some music CDs in 2005.
The government published its response to the petition on Monday and
claimed that DRM could bring value to consumers.
"DRM does not only act as a policeman through technical protection
measures, it also enables content companies to offer the consumer
unprecedented choice in terms of how they consume content, and the
corresponding price they wish to pay," said the government, in its response.
"It is clear though that the needs and rights of consumers must also be
carefully safeguarded. It is reasonable for consumers to be informed
what is actually being offered for sale, for example, and how and where
the purchaser will be able to use the product, and any restrictions
applied," the government added.
The DRM debate in the U.K. coincides with arguments against use of the
technology from another sector -- Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who
earlier this month advocated licensing music without DRM
Jobs contends that eliminating DRM will encourage interoperability
between music services and boost sales of downloadable recordings.
Sony's use of rootkit-like technology on its music CDs caused a storm of
protest. The DRM technology was secretly installed and hid itself from
the operating systems on people's PCs when they played Sony CDs on their
computers. Users complained that this violated their rights to full
disclosure about the products they bought from Sony, whose problems
escalated after virus writers used the technology to hide malicious
In the U.K., the Open Rights Group campaigns against technologies such
as DRM, which it believes can undermine the rights of users.
Becky Hogge, executive director at the Open Rights Group
, believes that public awareness of the
issues surrounding DRM is growing. "DRM had been seen in the past as a
niche technology issue, but there is now rising consumer awareness about
it," she told /CNET.com.au/ sister site /ZDNet UK/.
Hogge added that some DRM technologies put restrictions on users that
run counter to their rights under U.K. copyright law. For example, a
blanket ban on copying prevents an individual from taking a sample for
review or illustrative purposes, as they are allowed to under the "fair
use" provisions within copyright law.