Digital Media in Italia

Un'iniziativa per interrogarci sul ruolo dell'Italia
e per programmare il nostro futuro

 

2008/02/28


 

Response to European Commission on “Creative Content Online” consultation

This document is submitted by Digital Media in Italia (dmin.it) [1] in response to the invitation made by the European Commission to all stakeholders to take position on the questions listed in Annex "Creative Content Online – Policy/Regulatory issues for consultation" to [2].

dmin.it is an interdisciplinary, open, non-profit group established in November 2005 with the purpose to define action areas that may enable Italy to play a primary role in the exploitation of the global “digital media” phenomenon. By “digital media” dmin.it means any digitally-represented content that can be carried by digital networks and processed by digital devices, particularly if these are programmable.

dmin.it has developed a complete proposal [3, 4] that provides the necessary technological, normative and governance tools required to realise the objective that dmin.it set to itself. More specifically the proposal identifies, specifies and defines the conditions for an effective use of three key technologies:

  1. Format for the controlled distribution of digital media (iDRM)
  2. Access to broadband digital networks (iNet)
  3. Pay and cash based on units (iPay)

The dmin.it proposal does not require the exclusive standardisation of technologies as dmin.it simply proposes that, next to technologies that operators freely elect to adopt to satisfy their needs, the interoperable technologies proposed by dmin.it be used.

To make the proposal practically implementable, dmin.it has also developed proposals to amend existing national laws and to govern the three systems defined by the three technologies above.

Below dmin.it responds to some of the questions of [2].

Question 1. Do you agree that fostering the adoption of interoperable DRM systems should support the development of online creative content services in the Internal Market? What are the main obstacles to fully interoperable DRM systems? Which commendable practices do you identify as regards DRM interoperability?

Response to 1st sub-question: Do you agree that fostering the adoption of interoperable DRM systems should support the development of online creative content services in the Internal Market?

After 3 years devoted to the development of an interoperable DRM solution dmin.it responds affirmatively to this question and its proposal includes a "DRM format". Format is a technology that has always been the force driving consumer adoption of new content distribution. dmin.it has called its solution iDRM to convey the message that "interoperability" is the critical element for the success of the format.

If the dmin.it proposal is adopted in all countries of the Union it can be expected that online creative content services will see a rapid and rewarding expansion in the Internal Market.

Response to 2nd sub-question: What are the main obstacles to fully interoperable DRM systems? 

dmin.it believes that the problem of interoperability between "proprietary systems", i.e. systems that are independently designed, developed and deployed by market players, will not go away as long as operators can freely select DRM technologies to build their own DRM solutions.

dmin.it believes that business agreements and not technical standards determine interoperability between proprietary DRM systems and therefore competing market players have in general no incentive to promote interoperability. Therefore dmin.it does not expect that interoperability between proprietary DRM systems can be practically achieved.

Thefore the main obstacke to DRM interoperability is the absence of a open standard DRM system.

Response to 3rd sub-question: Which commendable practices do you identify as regards DRM interoperability?

Interoperability is a crucial element of the user experience. Either interoperability is part of the digital media offer or consumers will find solace in places where interoperability is guaranteed. For this reason interoperability has been put at the basis of the dmin.it effort.

The dmin.it proposal solves the interoperability problem by mandating that operators who choose to distribute content using proprietary DRM technologies also distribute that content using a commonly adopted DRM standard. dmin.it has selected the Digital Media Project Interoperable DRM Platform, version 3.1 (IDP-3.1) toolkit standard [5] and is experimenting with the Open Source Software implementation of IDP-3.1 (Chillout) [6].

Question 2. Do you agree that consumer information with regard to interoperability and personal data protection features of DRM systems should be improved? What could be, in your opinion, the most appropriate means and procedures to improve consumers' information in respect of DRM systems? Which commendable practices would you identify as regards labelling of digital products and services?

Response to 1st sub-question: Do you agree that consumer information with regard to interoperability and personal data protection features of DRM systems should be improved?

In the dmin.it proposal the interoperable version of content distributed in iDRM is clearly labelled as interoperable. The selection of a DRM standard that is available as Open Source Software makes the issue of interoperability and personal data protection no longer of concern because anybody, e.g. a consumer organisation, is able to check what are the "bits on the wire" that move from a consumer device to a service provider's back end. This is possible without jeopardising any security the service relies on.

Response to 2nd sub-question: What could be, in your opinion, the most appropriate means and procedures to improve consumers' information in respect of DRM systems?

In the dmin.it proposal the labelling of iDRM content and devices provides very clear information to consumers. dmin.it assumes that iDRM content will be available in many forms: some content, e.g. distributed with a Creative Commons licence may have iDRM information simply expressing the rights, some form of long tail content may need lightweight technologies for Rights Management Information (e.g. watermarking) while premium content may need strong Rights Enforcement (e.g. encryption).

Response to 3rd sub-question: Which commendable practices would you identify as regards labelling of digital products and services?

Labelling of the types of digital products and services described above can be easily done on the physical media carrier or in a pop up window before content plays or on devices as it is done today for DVB set top boxes or DVD players.

Question 5. Do you agree that ensuring a non-discriminatory access (for instance for SMEs) to DRM solutions is needed to preserve and foster competition on the market for digital content distribution?

Setting up a proprietary DRM infrastructure is in general very costly and the trend is expected to go in the direction of ever more complex, sophisticated and costly DRM infrastructures. Therefore dmin.it does not expect that in general SMEs will stand any chance of running an independent DRM-enabled business, if not by relying on somebody else’s technology.

The dmin.it proposal leads to a simple solution to this critical problem because DRM standardisation enables SMEs to have access to key elements of a DRM solution from multiple competing sources or can even exempt them from considering it. This is, for instance, the case of consumer devices that are available from the free market.

Question 11. Do you consider that applying filtering measures would be an effective way to prevent online copyright infringements?

dmin.it believes that the adoption of filtering measures incites reckless investments in network apparati that will simply trigger software countermeasures. Indeed we can already see the result of this arms race in the form of software technologies that may find other threatening illegal applications.

In any case dmin.it raises the issue that filtering measures that lead to inspection of information packets travelling the network is generally unconstitutional and should be explicitly banned. dmin.it believes that such packet inspection measures are unnecessary if the dmin.it proposal is implemented.

References

1

Digital Media in Italia, http://www.dmin.it/

2

COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS on Creative Content Online in the Single Market, http://ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/docs/other_actions/col_en.pdf

3

La proposta di Digital Media in Italia per dare all’Italia un ruolo primario nello sfruttamento dei digital media, http://www.dmin.it/specifiche/proposta-completa.htm

4

The Digital Media in Italia proposal to give Italy a primary role in the exploitation of digital media (excerpts from the original proposal in Italian), http://www.dmin.it/specifiche/summary.htm

5

Digital Media Project, http://www.dmpf.org/

6

Chillout. http://chillout.dmpf.org/