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European DRM Debate Heating Up

On Jan. 3, the European Commission decided to give a boost to Europe's online content sector so that EU citizens can enjoy easier and faster access to music, TV programs, films or games via the Internet, mobile phones, or other devices. The Commission is encouraging the content industry, telecom companies and Internet service providers to work closely together to make more content available alone, while ensuring at the same time protection of intellectual property rights. In particular, the Commission wants to facilitate copyright licenses for online content covering several or all EU member states.

The European Commission pinpoints four main issues which they seek to develop further at the EU level, among them Interoperability and transparency of Digital Rights Management systems (DRMs).

The Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen and Berkman together has explored this issues through the eInnovation and ICT Interoperatility project.  Berkman fellow and Research Center for Information Law Director Professor Dr. Urs Gasser and Berkman Executive Director John Palfrey released a case study in Nov. 2007 about implementation of DRM in the music content market and associated problems with regard to interoperability.  In "DRM-protected Music Interoperability and eInnovation" they list the merits and demerits of various approaches in achieving interoperability and explore technological, market, and legal environments in their relation to the achieving interoperable DRM systems.  The project's other publications, "When and How ICT Interoperability Drives Innovation", "Case Study: Digital Identity Interoperability and eInnovation", and "Case Study: Mashups Interoperability and eInnovation" also contribute to the conversation.

The creation of an open and competitive single market for online content is one of the key aims of the EU's i2010 initiative, which was started by the Commission on June 1, 2005.  The Commission is launching a  public consultation to prepare by mid 2008 an EU Recommendation on Creative Content Online, for adoption by the European Parliament and Council.  Stakeholders are invited to comment by Feb. 29.

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In early June 2012, Urs Gasser and John Palfrey released Interoperability: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems. The book is inspired by their 2005 study and… More