A recently formed IEEE Working Group (P1817) will be looking to change the way DRM affects users of e-books and other digital media. DRM currently prevents users from having real control over their ‘digital property,’ as it prevents individuals from sharing digital products, in addition to other limitations imposed by the provider.
The goal of this IEEE working group is to return control of digital property to the consumer by establishing standards such that “consumers may enjoy all of the digital conveniences and ownership privileges of the movies, music, books, games, and other digital products that they purchase, while honoring copyright and respecting the rights of authors and artists to profit from their creative works.”
A recent Ars Technia article delves deeper into this subject. The intent is to make digital property more similar to physical property with respect to product ownership. As we stated in one of our recent blog posts, the nature of DRM and licensing at this time effectively cause e-book buyers to pay for the right to access digital media for as long as the provider is willing to allow access. As we saw in July last year, when Amazon recalled two books by forcibly deleting them from their customers’ Kindles, the rights of the consumer at this point are somewhat ambiguous. One goal of the P1817 working group is to ensure that product ownership is perpetual, allowing owners of digital personal property to be free of restrictions on private use or sharing.
“The 'digital personal property' idea involves two major pieces: a title folder and a playkey. The title folder contains the content in question. It's encrypted, and it can be copied and passed around freely. To access the content inside, however, you'll need the playkey, which is delivered to the buyer of a digital media file and lives within a 'tamper-protected circuit' inside some device (computer, cell phone, router) or online at a playkey bank account."
The playkey cannot be moved or copied, but an e-book or other digital property can be shared with a friend by linking them the playkey along with a copy of the product. Users need to be careful, though, because just as with physical property, "controlling the playkey means that you control the media, and you truly own it.” Read here for more information on the process.
P1817’s first meeting is on July 14, and interested parties are invited to join and participate.