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Friday, February 28, 2003

DRM conference: RIAA duelling with Verizon
At the DRM conference, representatives from content industries and ISPs are facing off.

From the RIAA, Cary Sherman described the recording industry's current stance and projects.

Generally, and unsurprisingly, Sherman sees “DRM as business enabler.” However, it will take a long time, years, for a transition to new generation of (presumably DRM-equipped) players to spread through the market. Furthermore, new file formats are coming up, without agreements about standards, so those need to shake through first. There's an antitrust problem, since the RIAA can’t impose a standard

The digital world's threats: the "online world: a tiny marketplace for buying, a big one for free." File sharing is (notoriously) a problem for them, but cases take too long to settle. Further, CD burning is “skyrocketing”, which leads to “street piracy” (not pirate factories, but anyone a pirate node).

The RIAA's views: they're in a web of stakeholders: distribution mechanisms, artists, and consumers. Those consumers have a set of rights, including the rights to make copies for personal use, to make backup copies, and copies for portability. But consumers shouldn't have rights to sell or give away copies of IP.

Actions being taken:

  • creating as many legit alternatives as possible
  • copy protection for disk content – “but the tech isn’t there yet”
  • interested in preventing not disc burns, but burns of burns
  • making “some progress in audio formats”
  • add value to CD (bonus tracks, merchandising access)
  • spoofing
  • start forging business models in collaboration with others
  • education (pop stars, “outreach to colleges and universities”)
  • enforcement

The RIAA is working on transitioning business relations between artists and others in industry. After all, “if you’re going to sell less product, you need to find new business relationships”

From Verizon, Sarah Deutsch didn't say much about DRM directly, but focused on her company's fight with the RIAA. Generally, Verizon, as an ISP, “do[esn't] profit from p2p file sharing”. In fact, ISPs
"agreed to the DMCA [cf section] 512i."

Yet IP holders “are desperately trying to twist an old law” to protect old business models.

On the struggle with RIAA, Deutsch articulated the principle behind their stance: "Verizon shouldn’t interfere with private communications of users."

Some implications of the RIAA's success so far:

  • "[the recent anti-Verizon] decision authorizes the clerk of a court, without supervision of a judge, to rubberstamp requests for users’ information, based on information from someone, somewhere. [Since] very time you visit a site or send a message, your IP address is visible, [a copyright holder] armed only with that IP address and the assertion that someone is infringing your copyright [can act]." It’s “private search warrant power… unconstitutional.”
  • The case has significant privacy potentials. “If RIAA wins, will have a chilling effect on privacy.”
  • “They’d rather be able to use the IUSP to send thousands of cease and desist emails…”

She concluded optimistically, arguing that the “content industry’s scorched earth tactics are doomed to fail.”

Dan Gillmor's notes are excellent, too.
:: posted by Bryan, 1:41 PM |

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