About this issue
XCP copy protection & Co
Philipp Bohn investigates three cases of invasive and intrusive DRM systems: Sony BMG's XCP copy protection, StarForce technology, and Microsoft DRM. In all these cases the impact of the technological protection measures is by far disproportionate to the legitimate purpose of DRM systems to enable new business models for digital content. The three cases are rather different with XCP installing a rootkit, with StarForce deactivating burning tools, which can not always be reactivated, and with Microsoft DRM, which may not work correctly after changes to hardware components and may lead to a loss of legitimately purchased property. Despite the differences, there are some common features as the article shows: Intrusive DRM systems tend to be intransparent and prone to create unnoticed security risks. As these systems often have an impact at the operating systems level, they are hard to detect; as they are intentionally hidden, they do not appear clearly addressed in end-user license agreements, and if detected, companies hesitate to admit what they have done. This makes it difficult for consumers to uninstall them. All these hassle-prone DRM systems have a strong taste of consumer neglect and distrust, and can hardly be envisaged as foundations of consumer-friendly e-content services. Furthermore, invasive DRM is hardly compatible with acknowledged principles of ownership, data protection and privacy.

Google Print – Google Book Search
Google Print, renamed Google Book Search, is another hot topic we address in two contributions. Bill Rosenblatt shows in an excellent analysis, how Google challenges existing value chains in the publishing business. Today Google Book Search and similar developments are about "discoverability" of publications: "A search engine has the power to expose content as the result of a user's Internet search, direct her to any other resource on the Internet to find the full content… and potentially make money on the referral" (Rosenblatt). While this facility already changes marketing and accessibility of publications, the true disruptive potential is visible just as writing on the wall: rendering of copyrighted works directly on the Internet. This potential has not yet been exploited. To leverage this potential content providers and service providers have to come to terms: " If publishers want to maintain control over their own rights and supply chains in the Internet age, then they will need to take control of their 'rights' and how they make them available to distributors and retailers like Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and MSN" (Rosenblatt). And that's where DRM B2B DRM to be exact – comes in. Publishers need to define and manage the rights for themselves, decide what rights they are willing to offer to Google and others, and define the standards for communicating these rights. While this is the main message of Bill's article, the reasoning is much more down to earth with numerous facts about companies, projects, standards, and markets.

The INDICARE interview with Jens Redmer, at present responsible for Strategic Partner Development for Google Book Search in Europe, reveals that Google is not willing at present to go into a strategic debate about its impact on the publishing industry and how it will develop its line of services. The profile of Google Book Search as a book discovery mechanism is underlined, while the potential of services rendering content directly on the Internet is anathema: "Google Book Search is a means for helping users discover books, not to read them online and/ or download them. We will neither put Libraries nor Publishers out of business" (Jens Redmer). What becomes very clear in the interview, however, is that Google Book Search has established sophisticated technical and organisational protection measures to cope with the different demands of its partner libraries and publishers. It does not call them DRM, because "Google Book Search is a book discovery program, not a book reading program. For this, we rather need access limitation mechanisms than DRM mechanisms" (Redmer). That's right. But if we look at the relations between any publisher and Google we see B2B DRM at work: publishers define, i.e. restrict, what Google may do with their content, and these restrictions are implemented by Google defining the usage possibilities/restrictions for consumers.

Monitoring progress of European policy on cross-border licensing for online music
In this issue Margreet Groenenboom follows up what she already started in the September issue of the INDICARE Monitor, namely to monitor and analyse EC policy aimed to improve the cross-border licensing for online music services. The basic idea is to come up with EU-wide copyright licenses. Appropriate policy making has already gone through (at least) six steps so far:

  • April 2004: The Commission adopts a Communication on the management of copyright and related rights in the Internal Market, i.e. COM(2004)261final. Chapter III of this Communication touches upon collective rights management. The Commission indicates that a legislative initiative in this field is required.
  • April 2004 – June 2004: A stakeholder consultation takes place with respect to this Communication and collective rights management in particular with 107 stakeholder statements as response.
  • July 2005: Publication of a Commission staff working paper: "Study on a community initiative on the cross-border collective management of copyright", which is analysed in the September issue of the INDICARE Monitor.
  • July 2005: A stakeholder consultation takes place with respect to the "Study" with 85 stakeholder statements in response.
  • October 2005 (11.10.2005): Impact assessment on reforming cross-border collective management of copyright and related rights for legitimate online music services
  • October 2005 (21.10.2005): Commission Recommendation of 18 May 2005 on collective cross-border management of copyright and related rights for legitimate online music services
The last two documents are discussed in this issue.

With respect to DRM, the EC expects that rightholders will take into account DRM solutions offered by Collective Rights Managers to protect and monitor their rights in the most efficient way. But as Margreet points out this presumes that "all rightholders favour the use of DRM", which can not be taken for granted as e.g. public statements of artists rejecting DRM systems show. To offer DRMS is not an asset ''per se.

On the other hand the article demonstrates nicely a demand for B2B DRM systems as a prerequisite to manage rights European wide. For example the idea put forward by the Commission that rightholders should be allowed to withdraw licensed rights from a Collective Rights Manager at any time is hardly realistic without an up-to-date mechanism making transparent and instantly available the information on who is represented by which Collective Rights Managers for which rights.

Conference report and review of a research paper
Kristóf Kerényi reports about the ACM's fifth workshop on DRM. He reported last year on the previous workshop, so he is able to compare and analyse trends. One surprising trend he found is that aspects of consumer acceptability are now also acknowledged by technical DRM experts and played a role during the conference. Interesting in this respect was the contribution of Alapan Arnab (University of Cape Town), who does not believe in the implementation of "fair use" in DRM systems, and therefore looks for improvements targeting “fairer use”. Rei Safavi-Naini (University of Wollongong, Australia), also dealt with fair use. Based on her own empirical research she stressed the importance of the social context of music and new media consumption and existing social practices. Acknowledging social practice, DRM systems should strive to enable sharing and exploring new music, a strategy which at the end of the day would also lead to business opportunities. Andrew Moss, presented Microsoft's view highlighting consumer acceptability of DRM systems. The challenge today would not be technology but privacy, accessibility, ease of use, interoperability and device-to-device availability. Of course there were more technical presentations, which are all addressed in Kristóf's conference report.

In the last article of this issue I review a journal article which investigates the changing boundaries and interrelations of information markets and the public domain. More precisely, Ursula Holtgrewe explores the different intellectual property regimes in the music sector and scientific publishing, and provides a picture of the patchwork of for-profit and non-profit activities in these fields. Her ambition is to challenge the "essentialists" who opt for either the market or the public domain, and to overcome what she calls "digital neo-Marxism". Her approach is taken from sociology of knowledge and aims to focus on different levels of knowledge use and interchange. The article is just a preliminary piece of a broader study. What makes this research interesting for INDICARE is the intention to find a third pragmatic route between "essentialist" positions, and to base judgements and recommendations on observations of real world interactions and interchanges.

About the author: Knud Böhle is researcher at the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at Research Centre Karlsruhe since 1986. Between October 2000 and April 2002 he was visiting scientist at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in Seville (IPTS). He is specialised in Technology Assessment and Foresight of ICT and has led various projects. Currently he is the editor of the INDICARE Monitor. Contact: + 49 7247 822989, knud.boehle@itas.fzk.de

Status: first posted 25/11/05; licensed under Creative Commons
URL: http://www.indicare.org/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=158