DRM Debates

Recently the U.S. Commerce Department held a roundtable discussion on Digital Rights Management or DRM. Slashdot posted a submission pointing to articles by Declan McCullagh, Tech activists protest anti-copying, and a personal synopsis by Grant Gross, Fair use advocates silenced at DRM "public" meeting.

I point to U.S. meetings because Canada is frequently a single step away from U.S. digital law. Arguably ahead or behind at times, but lets face it, their economy directly affects ours.

It is unfortunate that the Commerce Department failed to include a representative for the activists at the table. It may have avoided the unpleasant outbursts during the roundtable. Declan describes the activist's comments as disruptive, whereas Grants states the activists "were basically told to sit down and shut up". Knowing the typical behaviour of self confessed "geeks" I can well imagine their inability to take their comments seriously.

The points raised by activists are valid, simply delivered poorly. Photographs taken by Declan show the division without having to read the story. At the table, we have Commerce Department's Phillip Bond and Motion Picture Association of America's Jack Valenti dressed suits and ties. The image of corporate America. Crammed at the door observing the roundtable with have people such as Richard Stallman and "Vincenzo", looking like the prototypical opponents to corporate America. Perhaps these advocates are not the best choice for the activist's lobby. Then again, they don't appear to have been given the opportunity like AOL Time Warner's Elizabeth Frazee.

Goods points raised though. Philip Bond is quoted as saying to Jack Valenti, "Jack, you say we've got to deal with peer to peer, but I think that's what consumers want." Is anyone listening to consumers? Do consumers really care? As I've said before, most consumers don't care. The majority will just take what's easiest for them.