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View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item1  SUMMARY: The United States Department of Commerce Technology Administration (TA) announces a public workshop on digital entertainment and its availability to consumers. The workshop will help gather data on such issues as the status of technical standards that provide the framework necessary to enable legitimate digital media distribution and the present state of strengths, weaknesses and availability of current and imminent technological solutions to protect digital content, barriers that are inhibiting movies, music and games from coming online.

Topics to be addressed at the workshop include:

The effectiveness of efforts to pursue technical standards or solutions that are designed to provide a more predictable and secure environment for digital transmission of copyright material;

Add your comment on this item2  This is odd phrasing - the TCP protocol provides a highly predictable way of transmitting copyright material, and end to end encryption can readily ensure that information is not intercepted in transit - this is used by millions of people every day for online banking, online purchasing and remote access to company networks.

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item3  What I surmise you are asking about here are so-called 'Digital Rights Management' schemes or DRM. Instead of discussing specific efforts, I'd like to point out general principles that apply to all such attempts.

Add your comment on this item4  Firstly, this is a misapplication of encryption. Encryption is for sending a secret between two trusted parties so that it cannot be intercepted by a third party. What DRM attempts instead is to make the remote device a trusted counterparty, as you don't trust the person owning it.

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item5  Secondly, there is a fundamental principle of computer science known as the Church-Turing thesis, which proves that any suitably powerful computer can exactly recreate the results of any other one. The implication of this is that any remote machine could be mimicking the correct responses, but still copying the data. These efforts are doomed to fail. If you talk to any DRM technologist, they will admit this, which is why their schemes provide for 'repudiation' and self-replacement.

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item6  Thirdly, encumbering the copyright material with digital locks and limitations makes it far less attractive - people like the freedom to read, listen, view and edit in the order and at the times they want, and will pay less for less convenient, technologically limited forms.

Major obstacles facing an open commercial exchange of digital content;

View comments on this itemAdd your comment on this item7  As the President wisely said yesterday, you can't have a market without trust.

Add your comment on this item8  The major obstacle that an open commercial exchange faces is the fact that the publishing industries don't trust their customers, and that in many cases they have forfeited the trust of the creative artists they represent.

Add your comment on this item9  The second major obstacle is the cartelisation of existing media publishing with price fixing and discriminatory pricing.

Add your comment on this item10  The third obstacle is the difficulty of sending payments, though PayPal makes this less of an issue. The effort for the customer of keeping track of these payments and not being 'nickeled and dimed to death' should not be underestimated either.

What a future framework for success might entail;

Add your comment on this item11  A future framework for success will entail building a marketplace based on trust, that does not discriminate against any creator or customer, and that rewards promoters for achieved sales. I have outlined just such a framework at http://mediagora.com

Current consumer attitude towards online entertainment.

Add your comment on this item12  The notion of a 'consumer' is wrong here, as digital works are not consumed - they are copied as needed, but do not wear out.

Add your comment on this item13  If you examine the web, you will find that it is mostly composed of web pages by individuals - more than 2 billion of them. People entertain themselves by reading others pages and writing their own, filled with their thoughts, jokes, deeds and dreams, passing ideas from one to another, chatting in chat-rooms, playing games with one another, and sharing music they care about.

Add your comment on this item14 The attitude is that the whole world is only a few clicks away, and they won't be forced to watch advertisements any more.

Add your comment on this item15  In closing, I'd like to quote Thomas Jefferson:

It would be curious... if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from anybody... The exclusive right to invention [is] given not of natural right, but for the benefit of society."

Add your comment on this item16  Kevin Marks, July 11th 2002