"That's a simplistic reply"
Yes it's why I capitalized the "IF" I guess I will have to find a more visible way to do a sarcastic "IF ONLY all roses where red..." (especially as I also have the bad habit of holding the caps lock a little to long, hmm... thinking cap on time ;)
Seriously though there are two distinct issues to deal with here from an individuals perspective, Digital Rights Management (DRM) that Bruce talks about and Personal Privacy (PP) which he only mentions in passing.
Unfortunately they are very intertwined when it comes to Intellectual Property Management (IPM) and Customer Relations Management (CRM) in their broader sense.
It is to do with the balance of power between a Rights Holder Manager (RHM) and their end "Customers" both as Individual Customers (IC) and Consumer Groups (CG).
As an individual you have little or no power over the RHM and they can extract pretty much what they think they are entitled to in return for allowing you access to what they view (incorrectly) as "their Content".
This is not just Money-For-Content which is a basic DRM issue, but also your personal information / habits etc which is very much a PP issue.
The RHM desperately wants this so called "marketing data" to make more money by selling it to other organizations both commercial and more worryingly Governmental (more of which later).
On the other hand you as an IC are part of a Consumer Group (CG) and have "purchasing power" over the RHM. If you do not like the RHM's terms then you have the (all be it very) limited option of taking your custom else where. As a collective group this enables you to boycott unfair terms if you are aware of them (think Sony's ill fated DRM on the sly) or have alternative options unless there is a constraint against free market economics (think preventative legislation requiring DRM etc).
However the RHMs by traditionally controlling the content and it's delivery mechanisms in a monopolistic fashion have held sway on the entertainment industry. And in the process turned it into an industry where the RHMs are hated and reviled by both their (thinking) customers and content suppliers.
From the RHM's perspective the IC is irrelevant except as a small part of the income stream to be exploited. The CG is only of relevance because of other parties the RHM has to deal with specifically,
-- The Intellectual Property Owner (IPO)
-- Governmental Organizations (GO)
-- Content Player Manufactures (FMCEM)
-- Industry Organizations (IO)
-- Standards Organizations (SO)
You need to see how the RHM is affected by these parties to understand the "beast" and it's motivations.
The RHM needs content that the CG wants to purchase, they get this from the "Singers & Song writers" etc. these are the "artistic types" that actually create and own the Intellectual Property on the content the RHMs push.
The artists are therefor IPOs and traditionally they contract their property to the RHM (ie the RHM does not own it just has some supposedly limited rights to distribute and take a commission...).
Until very recently the RHMs had an effective strangle hold on content delivery and distribution which was only limited by legislation from GOs.
In the recent past the GOs have had little or no interest in restraining RHMs (in practice the opposite appears to be the case currently). So the RHMs had quietly put themselves into a position of considerable power and have very much capitalized on it as an effective monopoly.
However the Internet has opened up other content delivery and distribution methods that do not require the RHM and that obviously scares them, as it has kicked away one of their fundamental foundation stones.
IPOs now have a choice that was not previously available to them, Therefore they now have a lever against RHMs for better terms and conditions (which might go part of the way to explaining why we have so many "manufactured" artists these days, who will sign faustian contract for their fifteen minutes of fame).
The RHM fairly obviously needs content delivery systems, such as "sheet music" and "phonographic records". Today these are Fast Moving Consumer Electronic (FMCE) Dual Use items such as MP3/USB memory players, Portable gaming consoles and mobile phones.
These are manufactured by large FMCEM organizations who out of the "economies of scale" require standard formats for storing content. Their turnover is an order of magnitude or so more than that of the RHMs.
Therefor the FMCEMs tend not to listen to RHMs but to Industry Organizations (IO) and Standards Organizations (SO).
Originally the relevant IOs where formed by the RHMs out of their self interest (RIAA etc). However today IOs tend to be formed by representatives of the FMCEMs out of their own interests (not those of the RHMs).
Likewise SOs tend to have FMCEM and GO representatives vastly outnumbering those of the RHMs (if they are even allowed in). Worse for the RHMs credibility, when they have tried to influence the IOs and SOs their solutions turn out to be pretty much turkeys (Think CSS and other existing DRM technology).
So the IOs and SOs pragmatically tend to pay only lip service to the RHMs at best. This scares the RHMs as they now have little or no control over content delivery systems.
Further to this FMCEMs hate DRM systems for a whole load of technical and other reasons, the foremost two being it unnecessarily slows the design cycle, and it likewise reduces profits...
The only strangle hold left to the RHMs over FMCEMs was withholding of content which is what happened with DVDs and CSS. It appears the FMCEMs saw it as a problem that interfered with amongst other things manufacture, so put in easy codes for operators to change/obviate Region Codes etc whilst testing. Obviously these became public knowledge quite quickly.
The RHMs still had one real foundation stone (strangle hold) left and that was over the distribution channels, but again that has been snatched away from them, by the Internet and the lack of need for pre-recorded media (a battle the RHMs had fort and lost with the Phillips cassette recorder format...)
What where the RHMs to do they had lost most of their foundations in a few short years.
First off they had had 30 years warning with their loss over Audio and Video cassettes and the attendant "illegal distribution" so had some experience in dealing with it. However they assumed that all of these threats had a central financial interest / control that could be attacked. It was a bit of a shock for them when the Internet turned that idea on its head and enabled completely de-centralized very fault tolerant systems to be developed freely...
The need to distribute large quantities of data cheaply to Universities etc in the 1980s gave rise to Silverplater developing the Audio CD into a Data CD connected to PC based computer networks. Microsoft and other organizations realized the benefit and started to support the format. This was quickly followed by the realization that to safely back up large quantities of data on Personal Computers hard drives meant that being able to write CDs was very desirable so the technology appeared. This also meant that Audio and other CD formats where easy to copy and duplicate, but the RHMs where to late/unable to stop it.
Likewise the PC/CD technology brought down the cost of recording and producing high quality audio, this meant that groups did not have to go cap in had to the RHMs A&R men or the studio's they either directly or indirectly controlled.
The artist could go it alone in their bedroom and start their own record labels and CD production and sell at their gigs etc.
No longer where the RHMs a small self interested group in a monopolistic position. First small groups then larger groups of artists got upset with the RHMs.
This did not overly matter as long as the RHMs initially thought they controlled the distribution channel. The RHMs response contractually "jail new talent" and promote "manufactured bands" and use it to "warn off" established talent.
But the Internet then robed the RHMs of the distribution channel strangle hold they thought they owned. Their response litigation and publicity and try to convince the public that all downloads where illegal and where destroying artists lively hoods. With the subtext "that only the RHMs could guarantee" quality product etc.
Then recently to the RHMs embarrassment groups have got to the top of the charts entirely without them. Worse there is now a chart for Internet only music which is apparently a "more happening scene" than the RHMs offer. Worse still the RHMs have had to go cap in hand to some of these artists to distribute through their channels...
BIRTH OF DRM
In 2000 Digital Watermarking gave rise to the notion of technical Content Management systems. However as has been shown Watermarking is fragile at best and content management based on it can be fairly easily bypassed, so the technology was effectively still born.
Worse high quality analogue for most purposes is available so copying in a very slightly lower format is easily possible for ICs and the law appears to support them in this (for traditional media). Also various analogue "Video Copy Protection" systems had all failed to reliably achieve their aims in the 80's and 90's.
At the end of the 1990's computer games protection systems entered a new phase where the console manufactures started to use cryptography and other "embedded" techniques to try and (fail to) stop copying.
Microsoft appeared to suffer the worst public exposure on this with their X-Box Console and from this their ideas on Trusted Platforms started to surface. Which finally gave the possibility of the RHMs "Holy Grail" of pay every which-way/use enforceable DRM model.
That being said however we still do not have a workable model of a "user controlled" system with "perfect DRM", and I am not sure we ever will (except in theory) for purely economic reasons.
The cost of "imperfect DRM" systems will escalate faster than technology reduces it. DRM is also extremely environmentally unfriendly as well and serves no useful purpose as far as the CGs and FMCEMs are concerned.
Likewise both CGs and FMCEMs dislike the RHMs who support DRM simply because it gets in the way of what they want to do and slows things down (which is never good personally or for profit).
Therefor market forces should come into play, which would almost always favor the CG over the RHM content supplier in an open market, and most likely should do so in this case.
However there is another fly in the ointment...
What if there is some other force brought to act on the situation by the RHMs to try and protect their existence?
It might well tip the balance back in favor of the RHM content supplier. Such a force could be by legislation which appears to be the route Senator Fritz Hollings and his RHM backers appear to favor.
Unfortunately the GOs seem attracted to this, in these post 9/11 & 7/7 days restriction of individuals rights and privacy is the order of the day. As well as the GOs overriding desire to use terrorism as an excuse to create large central databases on just about everything their citizens do.
Now if you are an RHM or it's IO then how would you protect your future now that you have had your foundations kicked out?
Well you could get on the terrorist band wagon and go to the GOs and say,
"You can spot people who are in danger of becoming radicalized by what they view" and "Prevent them becoming a danger to the public". Likewise "You can spot terrorists by their content interests", therefore "We can help stop terrorism by monitoring access to information". "We have technology that can do this", "We can also give you the GO access to all this PP data". Therefore "We can help stop terrorism by controlling access to information" for you, what "We need is laws to put DRM in every new device", and all yor terorist problems will be solvable.
For the astute reader you may notice that the individual statements have been made by others in the RHMs and GOs and other marketing etc organizations already, all I have done is put them together...
Bets on it happening this way ?
Lastly my apologies for an "overly" long posting to the Blog (I know I am a repeat offender :(