around the blogosphere : 2007-09-18

Next Steps: DRM

Lock We all know how much we hate DRM.  It's obtrusive, it's annoying and it obstructs the free flow of content.  It runs counter to the very nature of the web.

Yet DRM is necessary for the protection (read: monetization) of premium content (think: The Office) in the digital world. So where's the middle ground?

It seems mainstream television believes this middle ground can be found in both old-school lock-down DRM (Apple and Windows) and protected streams on content. 

This falls short of user desires and expectations in a number of places:

  1. We use one TV and hopefully one remote to access all of our television content.
    • Yet when viewing content online we are supposed to go to hosted sites to view that same content.
  2. Television's reside in our living rooms and in our bedrooms.  We watch from our couches.
    • Computers reside on desks, we're leaning forward.  Much of the time we multi-task.  If we're watching video (when not on an airplane) there is a very good chance that we are watching it as a screen-in-screen while working on other content, otherwise we'd be watching it on a screen.
  3. Our Tivos give us a degree of ownership over the content.  We have a copy of it.  When we buy DVD, there is a degree of ownership.  The content is ours.
    • Streams aren't ours, they are yours.  The internet is our playground.  Let us download the premium streams of ad-supported content with a 30 day license.  This shouldn't hurt the DVD market, but would allow users to time and place shift legally - with the ads.
  4. DRM Stinks.  As a user, the protections you place on your content should not be my concern.  DRM and licensing should live behind the curtain.  I don't want to see it, I don't want to deal with it.
  5. Apple shouldn't own your licensing.  All Apple distributed licenses should reside within the property owner's (TV networks) database.  If I want to view my iTunes DRM protected content on a Windows Media device, I should be able to convert my licenses via collaboration between DRM formats - on the backend this would require something as simple as pinging the content owners.

Next Steps: Digital Rights Management

  1. Enable limited-licensed content with a 30 day expiration for download.  Bake in the ads.  If hackers cut out the ads and distribute the content on BitTorrent, you haven't really lost anything as the content is there already.
  2. Empower users to cut up your program into snippets, remix it, embed it on their own pages, play with it and make it their own.  Let us view what we consider to be our content where we want to, on our own terms.  Let us view it on our own pages, on our own terms.  These steps will only generate additional traffic to the programs themselves. 
    • And don't worry so much about content adjacency.  We don't know what posters people have on their bedroom walls right next to their televisions.  IF we don't have real world adjacency, why do we demand it of digital? 
    • Alternatively, just drop the ads from streams on inappropriate sites and cut out the last few minutes of the program with a link to view the remainder of the program on a safe site - with ads.
  3. Courts should forcibly mandate that Apple and Windows collaborate on their DRM.
    • In the short term, media players and media playing devices should be able to handle multiple DRM schemes.

As this is a hot button issue, I'm sure you all have lots to add!  Looking forward to your comments!