The Digital Media Project  
Source L. Chiariglione
Title Response to Bill Rosenblatt’s article No. 050509curran01


Response to Bill Rosenblatt’s article


Dear Bill Rosenblatt, the DMP shares a vision of a digital age in which the exchange of digital material is encouraged rather than discouraged.  Quite beyond the realm of media and entertainment, this age would see individuals, businesses, educational establishments, and public sector organisations creating, exchanging, and sharing content, in forms and by means yet to be conceived.  The commercial, social, and cultural benefits are incalculable.

In this vein I would like to respond to your insightful remarks ( 

Thank you for the attention you gave to reviewing the DMP’s IDP-1.  Clearly, it is very important that experts keep the market abreast of important new developments.  To that end, I’d like to provide you with some additional information and ideas, as well as suggest a few minor corrections to your overall positive review.  Since I expect you will be watching our next moves very carefully, these may help you communicate in future to your readers a more precise perspective of the DMP and its output.

The IDP-1 is our first major release and, yes, we are proud of it.  We also recognize, as do you, that technology is but one facet, together with policy, economics, and philosophy, of the DRM landscape.  Given the mission as well as the composition of the DMP, IDP-1’s focus is squarely on technology.  Perhaps you see it as just a humble beginning, but I assure you there is much more to come.

The digital media market opportunity, a commercial and technological challenge for the media industry, is in danger of being wasted.  Even Rupert Murdoch speaks of this very real threat.  The fear of piracy has paralysed the industry’s traditional business model.  IT, media, CE, and telecommunications companies have failed to adopt reliable standards and embrace the opportunity in unison.  It’s fair to say that today no one body, with the exception of the DMP, seeks to address issues and promote standards across the entire media value chain.

The DRM value chain encompasses content creation, delivery, and consumption. Throughout, content must be identified, managed, and protected.

Interoperable DRM technology standards—which do not yet exist—would constitute the framework within which interactions of different technologies, each with its own models, rules, procedures, interests, and content formats, would be harmonized and, if possible, automated.

Furthermore, such standards would be the only means by which secure delivery, effective rights validation and reporting, user privacy, and the management of financial transactions would be assured across the range of content type, enabling the optimum user experience.

For the DMP, digital media interoperability is part of an ideal incorporating artistic freedom and commercial viability, the harmony of which is dependent on end-user satisfaction.  Neither ostentatious nor verbose, for us DRM interoperability is the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products.  Fundamentally, this requires adherence to published interface standards that allow devices and applications to communicate seamlessly using well-defined protocols and structured, unambiguous information.

We don’t pretend to know exactly what end-users want, but we share both the ideal I define above and a sincere enthusiasm for making this ideal manifest.  We have a process in place by which anyone can voice an opinion about or further enumerate user desires and preferences.  Via our work compiling Traditional Rights and Usages, we have defined--more comprehensively than has ever been done--past media consumption conventions and user behaviour patterns.  This compilation of TRU's was never intended to address the interoperability issue from a technology standpoint.

However, it specifies many of the existing commercial boundaries of media distribution to consumers, and is, I believe, as pertinent to the interoperability issue as technology. The basis for IDP-1 is the understanding that in order to enable 21st century media distribution and consumption, we must do more than comment on what consumers buy; we must establish a comprehensive framework, as opposed to a simple technology and service infrastructure, that applies to a whole value chain.  I urge you to take a deeper look. 

You mention MPEG as a standards organisation that has had, and will continue to have, an impact on DMP. Many of the ideas related to content ID, license format, data models and rights expression have been researched in MPEG, and for that reason there is a liaison between DMP and MPEG.  DMP also watches the work of other similar organizations, and releases DMP output, such as IDP-1, to any interested party. If anything, IDP-1 should document DMP’s pragmatism and willingness to use the good ideas of others to solve today’s problems.

For the DMP, DRM interoperability is a service.  To enable interoperable DRM, we maintain that a broad framework of technology standards and operational utilities, i.e., an infrastructure, must be established, within which mark-up language, international registration and directory services, application programming interfaces to the leading DRM software systems, and commerce conventions for payments and clearing work together to make interoperable DRM applicable across the various competing technology solutions, while still promoting innovation in software technology and giving consumers and media companies choices.

If we are to relieve today's digital distribution gridlock, satisfy consumers, and give content creators the confidence they need to deliver digital goods and services, an interoperability standard is a necessity.

Currently, competition in the DRM technology market begets incompatible technologies, promoting conflict along the entire value chain.  We have seen in the past two years that, as the chain of interoperability breaks down due to balkanization of DRM technology, the feasibility of emerging digital media commerce models is threatened.  It’s a land grab for market share.

It’s time to decide on something – a convention, a standard – that lets media work across the board.

The DMP has more in common with the media industry than you write.  For instance, in October, 2003, at a conference on intellectual property protection in Paris, I said “Without a doubt, producing a DRM interoperability framework is the essential first step toward realizing the social, cultural, and commercial success that efficient digital content distribution promises.  The media industry would benefit from the establishment of an independent open DRM body to formulate detailed requirements to third party industries, including the hardware, software, and consumer electronics industries, focusing on the development of formal interfaces in concert with the leading DRM technology vendors to gain early cooperation.”  The Open DRM project, which in fact predates the DMP, was an effort by the media industry to address many of the points the DMP covers today, and that is how I met Leonardo, decided to join the DMP and promote the same ideal.  Your point that content companies have yet to commit to the DMP or in fact to interoperability is well taken, and we will increase our efforts to recruit new members from the media industry this year.

“Who is going to pay?” you ask.  A recent publication regarding the management of copyrights and other IP rights in EU internal markets, states “In the view of the Commission, the development of digital rights management systems should, in principle, be based on their acceptance by all stakeholders, including consumers, as well as on copyright policy of the legislature.  A prerequisite to ensure Community-wide accessibility to DRM systems and services by rightholders as well as users, and in particular consumers, is that DRM systems and services are interoperable.”  Later in the same paper, the Commission notes, “Arguably the widespread deployment of DRMs as a mode of fair compensation may eventually render existing remuneration schemes (such as levies to compensate for private copies) redundant thereby justifying their phasing down or even out.”

The DMP is not a standards organization.  Anchored in the DMP statutes, the organization “contributes the results of its activities to appropriate formal standards bodies and other appropriate entities whenever this is instrumental to achieve the general DMP goals.”

And last but not least, a little history.  The DMP was founded in December 2003 by Leonardo Chariglione, Thomas Curran, Hiroshi Yasuda, Richard Nicol, Marina Bosi, and Jose Neri.  The DMP’s leadership and membership, even a growing legion of devoted outsiders, have a good mix of academic and industrial experience making both “intellectual exercise” as well as discussions about “practical value” feasible.   Leonardo is the DMP’s current president.