The Digital Media Manifesto

 

Source

L. Chiariglione

Title

The Digital Media Project and the Bill of Rights

No.

030809chiariglione02

 

1. Introduction

There has been a discussion on the DMM reflector on the opportunity for the Digital Media Project (DMP) to have the definition of a "Bill of Rights" as part of its charter. While there is consensus that a Bill of Rights is a fundamental element of the eventual successful adoption of Digital Media (DM) - and the author of this contribution has claimed elsewhere that Society should address this kind of issues without delay - there is substantial disagreement on the opportunity for DMP to take the solution of such problem on board.

Purpose of this contribution is to propose the approach of taking into consideration "Bill of Right" issues by making sure that value-chain players have technical solutions available in case a "Bill of Right" is eventually adopted.

 

2. A Bill of Rights

At http://www.digitalconsumer.org/bill.html the following Bill of Rights is given:

No. Users have the right to Comment
1. "time-shift" content that they have legally acquired. This gives you the right to record video or audio for later viewing or listening. For example, you can use a VCR to record a TV show and play it back later.
2. "space-shift" content that they have legally acquired. This gives you the right to use your content in different places (as long as each use is personal and non-commercial). For example, you can copy a CD to a portable music player so that you can listen to the songs while you're jogging.
3. make backup copies of their content. This gives you the right to make archival copies to be used in the event that your original copies are destroyed.
4. use legally acquired content on the platform of their choice. This gives you the right to listen to music on your Rio, to watch TV on your iMac, and to view DVDs on your Linux computer.
5. translate legally acquired content into comparable formats. This gives you the right to modify content in order to make it more usable. For example, a blind person can modify an electronic book so that the content can be read out loud.
6. use technology in order to achieve the rights previously mentioned. This last right guarantees your ability to exercise your other rights. Certain recent copyright laws have paradoxical loopholes that claim to grant certain rights but then criminalize all technologies that could allow you to exercise those rights. In contrast, this Bill of Rights states that no technological barriers can deprive you of your other fair use rights.

While I generally agree on the spirit of this particular Bill of Rights, I do not think it can be translated into something that can be implemented in practice, unless there is a more general principle that is put at the basis of the Bill of Rights, i.e. that as much as users have rights (e.g. those above), so have creators and their proxies. Specifically the right is

those having rights to a piece of Digital Media have the right to exploit it (e.g. economically).

 

3. Redrafting of the Bill of Rights

Below is a redrafting of the Bill of Rights.

No. Users should be able to exercise the right to Comment
1. "time-shift" content This gives you the right to acquire content for later viewing or listening.
2. "space-shift" content This gives you the right to acquire content for use in different places.
3. get further copies of  content already acquired. This gives you the right to get content for which rights have been acquired once, possibly with different rights.
4. use content on the platform of their choice satisfying independently verifiable security criteria. This gives you the right to use content on the device of your choice, provided this does not become a hole through which valuable content is lost, thereby offending a basic creator's rights.
5. adapt content. This gives you the right to acquire content with the right to modify it to suit your needs.
6. use technology satisfying independently verifiable security criteria. This guarantees your ability to get the technology you want from whomever you want to perform the functions, for which you have acquired the rights, you want.

Note that the redrafted Bill of Rights no longer contains the "legally acquired content" clause, not because it should also apply to "illegally acquired content", but because we only want to deal with legally acquired content.

 

4. Simplifying the Bill of Rights

An accurate reading of the redrafted Bill of Rights leads to the following simplification:

Users should be able to acquire and consume (i.e. play, store, adapt and, more generally, process) content according to

  1. basic rights as specified by the applicable legislation
  2. any additional rights as acquired in a bilateral negotiation with the rights holder.

Note that "basic rights" may include the right to "quote" somebody, as advocated by Don Marti.

 

5. Conclusions

The simplified form of the Bill of Rights given in bold in 4. above is as much as the DMP should state about the rights of end users. The basic rightsholders right given in bold in 2. above is as much as the DMP should state about the rights of rightsholders.