The Digital Media Manifesto



Spencer Cheng


Use case: benefits of DM versus conventional physical media  




One of the key difference between DM and traditional media is the lack of a physical copy such as a music CD, paper book, or DVD. This lack presents psychological and practical barriers to user adoption. At the same time, the ephemeral nature of digital media can be one it's greatest asset. With physical copies, the advantages are that the user has the copy. The disadvantage is that the user can use the copy indefinitely only as long as the medium has not being damaged or degraded.


Publisher A makes available to the public a song S from artist B. As part of the the publication process, either A or B registers the song with Reliable Media Escrow Inc (RMEI) under UUID WXYYZ and provides a digital copy of that song to RMEI.

User X purchases indefinite listening rights for song S from an online store run by publisher A. As part of the purchase, he downloads the protected song S and the associated set of usage rights, R, related for that music. He also has some music CDs. X's home is destroyed in a fire. His CD collection, his music player and his computer where he kept his backup of song S are destroyed along with any records of usage right R. For the lost CDs, user X has no recourse but to buy new copies of the CDs.

Suppose user X had registered and escrowed the rights R he acquired from publisher A with RMEI using his own UUID Z after he received the rights from publisher A. Once the user has recovered from the fire and replaced his computer and music player, he will be able to go to RMEI and by using his UUID Z and presenting the right credentials, recover his usage rights R for song S as well as a copy of song S which is referenced by his usage right R.