Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Britain places some limits on Digital Rights Management

The BBC reports today that an all-party Parliamentary committee formed to look at digital right management concluded that the way it has been set up lately erodes purchasers' enjoyment of music and videos they purchase. The Members of Parliament noted

* labels should spell out limitations on transfering the purchased item from one platform to another (from computer to pda or Ipod, for example);

* labels should also spell out what happens if the platform for the music or video goes out of business or becomes obsolete;

* some aggressive Digital Rights Management (DRM), such as Sony Music's inclusion of a hidden virus-like data-string in their CDs to prevent copying, would be criminal in the United Kingdom;

* purchasers in the United Kingdom pay considerably more for music and videos than purchasers in the U.S. or E.U., and it did not seem fair for Digital Rights Management (DRM) to reduce UK purchases to rentals; if they want DRM the same across the market, they need to make the market price more uniform.

Here is a link to the Parliamentary All-Party Report, "Digital Rights Management" June, 2006.

Gowers Review of Intellectual Property (H.M. Treasury), under way now, link

Open Right Group (a sort of EFF for the U.K., I think) link, only funnier. Here is a blog entry where they go to get "lubricated" at the pub, and...

We had the monthly London Copyfighter’s Drunken Brunch and Talking Shop on Sunday, and despite the rain we had a good turn out. There are a few photos on Flickr, but it was a dismal day and my camera doesn’t much like the rain.

I think we actually had some of the most persistent heckling that I’ve seen so far at Speaker’s Corner. There is, of course, always a risk of heckling, but there was one guy who was particularly peeved at our presence and who was very loud and annoying, and another guy with a plastic bag on his head who obviously felt that hats were too pass�. In a surprising heckle, I was hassled about the dates for the various Roman invasions of Britain whilst attempting to draw a parallel between the Brits building stuff from Roman ruins and building software from existing code. As a metaphor, I think it has potential but not in the face of historically anally retentive types, obviously. I shall, of course, never now forget that the Romans didn’t build anything in AD55, even though I never actually claimed that they did.

It’s a bizarre kind of masochistic fun, speaking at Speaker’s Corner. Maybe after a few dozen more of these, I might even get used to it.

See you there next month, even if you only come to watch us get heckled. (Or to heckle.)

Of course, they do keep pressure on the Parliament and provide information to them as well.

And last, but certainly not least, a report on how Digital Rights Management affects libraries, free and online in pdf from the Institute for Public Policy Research link

Hail, Brittania!

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