Sony and DRM

The German American Lawyers Association held last Wednesday in Berlin a panel discussion titled The Current of Ideas in Cyber Society. Patrick Strauch, the German Managing Director of Sony/ATV Music Publishing (sitting rather uncomfortably in his chair as the industry's advocate vs. Prof. Larry Lessig) offered his views about some of the topics that are usually discussed in these forums. Presumably still under the impact of the rootkit disaster, Mr. Strauch expressed disillusionments about DRMs and their capacity to fulfill the promise of content control in the cyber-environment. (As if to add insult to injury, the Librarian of Congress, upon recommendations of the Register of Copyrights, declared in its recent 2006 DMCA Rulemaking - pp. 53-64 in the Register’s report of Nov. 17, 2006 - a new “rootkit exemption” allowing circumvention of such mechanisms for purpose of finding security vulnerabilities.)

I found this open and, one must admit, honest confession quite striking. Will the content industry eventually abandon the DRM dream? If so, what should we do then with all the copyright legal mess big media left behind before coming to realize that TPMs is a golden goose that bits too hard? One is left wondering about the sense of copyright protection to TPMs, if those who would still happily used them were only Apple, Microsoft, mobile device makers, consumer electronics guys and other copyright collaterals. By the way, is anyone interested in buying my DRM?

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