The Digital Media Manifesto



Philip Merrill


Response to "Comments on Complete draft of Digital Media Manifesto"




I've been asked to take a try at running over Chris' comments and posting this to the reflector. Please note my before-confessed pro-DRM pro-rightsholder bias. Many of the following statements should be enjoyable to attack since they are styled as if I actually knew what I was talking about, as if I had any of Leonardo's special abilities, and most important of all - they are stated strongly as theses and therefore are just waiting to be batted down. PHIL :)


[DMM - 2. Breaking the DM stalemate, Acting on two fronts, 1st paragraph, 1st sentence with CB edits] So far, efforts to break the DM stalemate have failed because of fragmented efforts stemming from beliefs that law alone or technology alone could do the job, leaving the business players to sort out the mess.
[PHIL] True & well said.

[DMM - 3.1.2 Phasing out analogue legacies, 2nd set of bullets, 1st bullet, last sentence]

[CB10] Are you sure these figures are correct?
[PHIL] I tried looking for these. Although I remember when they were first announced, I couldn't find them. At the time I thought they were spurious so I favor deleting this sentence. In the course of searching the web, I was impressed by & and March 2003 Institute for Information Law Report "The Future of Levies in a Digital Environment". At least these seemed impressive and substantial. Less substantial was an IEEE Spectrum mention that: "In January, executives from some of the biggest names in hardware and software, such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Nokia, sent a letter to the EU requesting an end to an antiquated levy system imposed by several national governments on analog copying equipment, which they say is now being extended to blank CDs, recordable DVDs, CD writers, and even computers in some countries." I couldn't find the letter online so please e-mail if you track it down. Frankly I don't see how the 20% figure could be accurate since losses from private copying cannot be accurately estimated. We can do without the statement entirely.

[DMM - 3.1.2 Phasing out analogue legacies, last full paragraph (right before last set of bullets) with CB edits] For the task of phasing out the levy on blank digital recording media and equipment, ...
[PHIL] Oops, good catch.

[DMM - 3.2.2, Open Media Alliance reference] correction/edit to "Open Mobile Alliance"
[PHIL] I thought that was wrong - great catch! And of course we should add to the references.


[CB - Preliminary Comments] "I feel that it might be necessary to add a short section on rights - as I note in several comments, the issue of the word rights is an area of extreme conflict and at present I feel the document does not except blindly involve itself in the controversy. I remember a particularly bitter discussion at the last REL/RDD requirements AhG before the Sydney meeting when both Rights holders and technology companies laid claim to the term. So, in a situation where users claim rights, rights holders claim rights and IT companies claim rights (i.e. network rights), there is a kind of stalemate. The problem with the document at present is that it seems unaware of the bitter dispute."
[PHIL] We absolutely need to add a sentence describing that the stalemate is so bad, both sides deny that the other side is even entitled to use the word "rights". It certainly would have been unfortunate if we hadn't referred to this bitter present-day dispute. On the other hand - and I'll say it now but it applies to much of the following comments - we have adopted a position/solution of saying both sides have "rights" and addressing the end-user's rights without legal formality but rather in terms of their rather strong expectations and consequent assertive behavior. I'm not satisfied with this solution, but it is our solution and we did not come up with a better one. So we will use the word "rights" based on that, however additional text is needed in parts 2 and 3.1.1 to refer to this maladroit acrimony over droit.

[DMM - 3.1.1 Mapping rights, Right to make personal copy paragraph, 2nd paragraph] For example, a user buying a VHS cassette may lose or wear out the original, ...
[CB8] However, most analogue cassettes are protected by the Macrovision anti-copy system.
[PHIL] Thank you. Every time I read this, I thought, "But what about Macrovision?" We must add text to somehow acknowledge their VHS hegemony.

[DMM - 3.2.3] End-to-end conformance assessment
[CB11] While this is not my speciality, does not this notion deal with the issues of compliance to standards? I know the MPA, which seems to have given up its campaign to get government to mandate standards, is now talking about mandated or government supported compliance. Does end to end conformance mean that the mandated will not be necessary or rather that mandated compliance will be easier to enforce?
[PHIL] Yes to the first question. Excellent questions. They suggest ways we can expand this section. It indeed means that legislative mandates are unnecessary. Although enforcement is rarely "easy" the body mandating compliance would be DMP, and the compliance regime would be the assessment. This would have to be well-designed and strict to be really meaningful. As Craig explained to me, concluding my earlier "How screwed up things are" thread on the reflector, dues paying members push for a "pass" on these assessments so the regime becomes watered-down instead of strict, more a matter of language than design-for-performance. So everyone passes, like in a "gut" course at an expensive college, but the standard ends up meaning nothing as a result because interoperability is lost. I am hopeful Craig or Leonardo will be able to expand this section. Personally, I am a prose-jockey with a nice knack for analysis, but I am not knowledgeable about this or qualified to elaborate what we have.


[DMM - 2. Breaking the DM stalemate, Analogue Media, 2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence] This union between the technology and its immaterial content also shaped public policy and legislation, for example laws concerning intellectual property and usage rights such as "fair use".
[CB4] I'm not sure this is true. The history of fair use goes back a very long way, though clearly the interpretation of fair use has developed with the development of analogue media systems.
[PHIL] Your objection shows that "union between the technology and its immaterial content" does not sufficiently say what we would like it to mean. We're pretty much going back to early systems of writing and calculation here. I can see why strong advocates of "fair use" would like to bring it back to the first idea any human ever had, but we're not out of line treating "fair use" as a doctrine that didn't spring up until civilizations were already better established. So on the one hand it stays as is, but all the same ... Help! There's great stuff in "Riding The Media Bits" about all this, but how do we say it briefly here in the DMM?


[DMM - 1. Introduction, 3rd paragraph, 2nd sentence] Over the past few years, the sad fact is most business models for innovative DM have been unprofitable or are being challenged in the courts. Unlike the huge success for other digital technology-driven industries,...
[CB1] I don't quite understand what this means. Are the innovative business models for DM that are being challenged P2P file sharing? If so, you will be accused of confusing business with technology. P2P is a technical process - the way it has been currently implemented involves infringing other peoples IP.]
[PHIL] This should stay as is because the resolution we are now using was painstakingly arrived at during the ballistic [NO-DRM] threads on the dmm reflector. While "business models" may be a very dignified way to put it, perhaps an excessively generalized level of abstraction, it also avoids bashing the well-known P2P services. As someone who bandies the word "piracy" about on a weekly basis, regularly advocating the content industry side, I feel like if I can live with this, anybody else should accept the compromise.

[DMM - 1. Introduction, 3rd paragraph, 5th sentence] It is expected end users will financially support a fuller DM experience if it is properly priced, ...
[CB2] While I personally agree with this, I feel that placed so early on and particularly identifies the rights holders' pricing policy as a roadblock. This will be seized on as evidence that this is purely an IT and CE position paper. Unless of course you mean properly priced with respect to all aspects, including the cost of access to broadband, the cost of devices etc. At present this is not the sense of this phrase
[PHIL] This should stay as is because we have decided that the people who seize on such things as evidence comprise two violent and misguided mobs who are married to the stalemate. "Proper pricing" is a wonderful thing when it emerges. Perhaps every industry ever has grown based on some sort of "proper pricing" that caused genuine wealth creation.

[DMM - 1. Introduction, 1st bullet after Vision statement]

[CB3] End User rights is a reasonable concept but will certainly cause significant irritation from corporate right holders. In the RDD we became so concerned about the ownership of the word "rights" because both sides were claiming it (network rights)(intellectual property rights) that we avoided providing a definition. If we could keep away from rights, it would be better.
[PHIL] But it is too late, so this stays as is. Our solution is both sides have rights. Your objections are much appreciated in the "thanks for caring" category, but we all know Leonardo is not planning to abandon what now counts as our accepted approach to this.

[DMM - 1. Introduction, 3rd bullet after Vision statement with CB edits]

[PHIL] This stays as is. The additions are unnecessary and insufficiently helpful. However these levies go, go they must. My little contribution helped clarify that we are only actively trynig to eliminate all digital levies. So the analogue ones can be as inevitable as they like, but it is incumbent on us not to accept digital levies as inevitable - particularly because they contribute to a downward spiral, a vicious circle, of complacency, injustice and the abandonment of real drive to achieve authentic technological solutions. And we're in the technological solutions camp!

[DMM - 2. Breaking the DM stalemate, The DRM technology solution, 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence with CB edits] Existing value-chain business players are unconvinced that it is a solution because DRM does not control the capability of unintended re-use of legacy content already released (e.g. CDs), ...
[PHIL] This stays as is. The addition is unnecessary and insufficiently helpful. "Legacy" is a nice word, but it doesn't help clarity here. For me, I think it has more to do with masters in major studio's vaults than it has to do with a zillion laserdiscs floating around in collections.

[DMM - 2. Breaking the DM stalemate, The DRM technology solution, 4th paragraph, 1st sentence with CB edits] Lastly, end users who of course are also members of the value chain, (e.g. in a secure peer to peer environment domestic redistributors of content may be rewarded for their activities in some way by the rights owners), ...
[PHIL] Nope, stays as is. We've avoided superdistribution models pretty conveniently here, and such P2P details point to the infringement battleground that we have skirted for darn good reasons. So let's not get into it.

[DMM - 2. Breaking the DM stalemate, Acting on two fronts, 1st set of bullets, 2nd bullet]

[CB5] See my original note on this. And much later on in this document you have introduced the notion that some kind of hybrid economy may be necessary at first and studies about how the phase out might be achieved.
[PHIL] Since Chris doesn't recommend specific changes here, this can stay as is. Of course Chris is much more knowledgeable than I am on levies. I don't believe the added information belongs in the Manifesto until we reach 3.1.2 in the Major Actions area, which will greatly benefit from material Chris is still compiling for the DMM.

[DMM - 3.1.1 Mapping rights, 3rd paragraph, 3rd sentence] ...One of the obstacles to adoption of DM is the decision of some service providers to prevent the ability to make personal copies, thereby removing what users have come to consider a basic right, regardless of its formal legal status.
[CB6] Once more we have this problem about rights. While there is no way the DMP cannot become involved in the debate and its resolution, it is very easy to be perceived as taking sides and I think this may be an example of that.
[PHIL] This stays as is because it is a painstaking compromise for exactly what Chris points out. We are dealing with so-called "rights" that have some legal basis, at times precious little. We may be expected to be attacked by both sides because that's what being in the middle means, but we're not saying consumers are right about rights, we're just saying they think they are right about some basic rights and this will effect consumer spending, which fuels the value chain thus enabling DM to expand into a thriving global industry.

[DMM - 3.1.1 Mapping rights, Right to quote paragraph] It is reasonably easy to exercise the "right to quote" using extracts from analogue media. However, in a scenario of protected digital media, if support for this feature has not been designed from the beginning, a right traditionally enjoyed in the analogue age is lost. It is probably not too difficult to devise technical solutions to this problem, but rights holders releasing content have no incentive to do so. The result is one more reason for civil rights organisations to oppose the use of protected content.
[CB7] A right to quote is actually a legal right under Berne. However, the context is important. I'm not sure therefore that this is a good example. So it is not a case of a "right traditionally enjoyed" but a right legally held under Berne. It is a question of rights holders respecting the law and of users not abusing the Berne exception.
[PHIL] Again, this should stay as is because we have defined end user rights in terms of end user perception. Even a judicial authority cannot be authoritative on this digital stuff. Really good digital law has not yet been laid down by time. Analogue rights are most significant in terms of the market for DM because they are perceived by end users as something they are traditionally entitled to.

[DMM - 3.1.1 Mapping rights, Right to privacy, 2nd paragraph, 3rd sentence] We are also seeing media businesses working in isolation from the users and frequently independently of one another, providing solutions that reduce the scope of traditional rights, ...
[CB9] This is not traditional, but legal.
[PHIL] Once again, as before, this stays as is. Black letter law is not really how we are addressing this, and since governmental policy trumps super-duper well-established property rights, we're sort of in a policy area here. The laws will emerge based on how the technology works, and conventional law enforcement or lawsuits regarding expression versus infringement will not cease - although the stalemate must be relegated to digital antiquity. The DMM/DMP can reframe the whole discussion by building effective interfaces for interoperable DRM backed by rigorous conformance assessment throughout the value chain. And if the end result feels satisfying to users' sense of tradition, they'll financially support a transformed DM economy.

[DMM - 3.1.2 Phasing out analogue legacies, 2nd set of bullets, 1st bullet, 1st sentence with CB edits]

[PHIL] No it's not. It's inherently unjust because it inflicts "collateral damage" on innocent targets.

To anyone reading this far down the page, I apologize for my pontifical flow and encourage verbal kicks at my pants. PHIL :)