The foundational whitepaper, Five Scenarios for Digital Media in a Post-Napster World, first released by the Berkman Center in November 2003 and updated in January 2005, identifies several trajectories that could guide the future of music and movies online. Based on this analysis and subsequent meetings, research on the Digital Media Project is currently exploring five scenarios as the different models vying to shape the development of digital media.
- the No-Change Scenario assumes that confusion remains about doctrines like "fair use" and "first sale" as the DMCA and copyright law continue to guide digital media distribution.
- the Speedbumps Scenario for Digital Media forecasts that technological restrictions like encryption will create small barriers to users' access and control of digital content.
- the Technology Lockdown Scenario projects that restrictive digital rights management (DRM) schemes will unilaterally determine users' experience of the content they purchase.
- the Alternative Compensation System Scenario imagines that users access digital content through a state-run system that would tax consumers according to use and reward creators according to the popularity of their work.
- the Entertainment Co-op Scenario envisions that voluntary associations emerge within the existing copyright structure to allow distribution of digital content between subscribers and creators.