Archive for September, 2007

Book launch: The World beyond Digital Rights Management

September 28, 2007 Leave a comment

As mentioned in my last post, this lecture style seminar will take place at the BCS office in Central London, (near Covent Garden), on the 23rd of October. Full details including registration information are available on the launch webpage.

BCS Publications has a wealth of books on various IT related topics, and the launch events are always something special. This event is also held in association with the dynamic BCS North London Branch, which is also renowned for their great events! Disclosure: I am a serving member of the committee, hence the shameless plug.

This evening seminar will provide an excellent opportunity to discuss the complexity and impact of DRM on the new content economy; as well to examine the key factors that contributed to the conceptual need for DRM in the first place.

Therefore you can expect coverage of the various stakeholders, businesses, products and services that affect, and are affected, by DRM. There will also be ample opportunity to network informally after a brief Q&A. Refreshment included!

I hope to see you there.


What future for Digital Rights Management?

September 23, 2007 Leave a comment

As I have always maintained, DRM is only a small part of the rather complex situation we are faced with using content in the information age. So how can there really be a future for a ‘solution’ like DRM which seems to press all the wrong buttons?

My recent article in Computing magazine discusses this state of affairs, and it points out the all too familiar impact of misguided use of DRM (and the resulting negative reactions / news coverage), which will contribute to its ultimate its demise. But regardless of how this plays out, there still remains a need for a solution to the larger problem of managing Intellectual Property rights in the digital world and this won’t go away just because DRM is no more. So, as usual, I would be very interested to get your comments on the article, and to find out what you think should be the solution to this wider problem of managing IPR in the digital world – with or without DRM.

P.S. The article also mentions this blog. It seems we are getting famous!

P.P.S. The launch of my Book on DRM is scheduled to take place on the 23rd of October, at the BCS office in Central London. I will post further details, when I receive them, and I look forward to meeting some of you on the day!

Categories: BCS, DRM Tags:

Watching the Social Networks

September 20, 2007 Leave a comment

Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn are fast becoming the target of copyright holders seeking to identify and punish any infringers found in these places. This has many implications for privacy, and the question is at what point does copyright infringement investigations become an invasion of privacy?

According to a Wired magazine article, copyright holders have begun monitoring major social networking destinations in addition to their usual targets of file sharing and P2P networks. Also it is not just the music industry complainant, but even car manufacturers like Volkswagen have got in on the act.

The mechanism used by the copyright holder is to issue a subpoena, (that seeks to identify the culprit), to the hosting site and/or ISP. The response varies depending on the ISP or host’s policies, but the effect is that the offending content is often removed, and the owner’s identity may also be supplied to the copyright owner for possible litigation. Scary thought indeed.

Even scarier is the prospect that newer networking destinations like Yahoo’s Mash, which allows users to permit friends to ‘mash’ their profiles, will effectively make it possible for you to get sued for someone else’s funny pranks. Unless, of course, there is some sort of user activity which can help nail the real culprit.

The ‘big brotherness’ of it all is simply amazing. Will there really be anything like privacy in the future? I’d like to get your opinion on this so send in those comments.

eBooks and the future of publishing

September 16, 2007 Leave a comment

The ebook publishing industry has become an interesting place to observe how commercial stakeholders battle for control of online content standards in order to further their own agendas. The very future of electronic publishing may well be at stake….

Recently Adobe’s .epub format was declared an ebook standard by the International Digital Publications Forum (IDPF). This may not be surprising to most people, considering that Adobe is a recognised leader in online formats like PDF and Macromedia Flash. However their capture of this standard has raised eyebrows in the blogosphere (e.g. this article in The Register) for several reasons.

First of all IDPF, the standard granting body, is a one employee outfit and its single employee is apparently leaving to join Adobe. Go figure. Secondly, there has been relatively poor uptake or implementation of this standard (apparently even Adobe’s examples are not fully compliant). Which raises the question of why battle for this standard?

The answer, according to The Register, may be for competitive reasons like regulatory adoption of this standard for archiving purposes, which will effectively block the path of competitors like Amazon’s Mobipocket,SamHain publishing, or many genre specific publishers like Baen (Sci-Fi), Ellora’s Cave (Romance).

Currently you can choose to read a typical electronic book in the following formats: HTML, Rocket/Ebookwise, Palm/Mobipocket, PDF, RTF or Microsoft Reader Formats and the list just keeps getting longer.

It is still early days, but the indications are that the publishing industry may end up in a state similar to the music industry if they do not get their electronic publishing formats in order. I wonder if they will succeed. What do you think?

Categories: BCS, Publishing Tags:

Computer Generated Music: Who owns the copyright?

September 6, 2007 Leave a comment

An interesting question if ever there was one, and I dared ask it at a BCS event on Algorithmic Musical Composition which was hosted by the SPA Specialist Group in London on Tuesday. Read on to find out the ‘answer’ if you dare.

First of all, I must to declare that you are reading this entirely at your own risk, and that I take no responsibility for your reaction to the answer. That said here goes….

The question was: ‘Who owns the copyright to computer generated music? Is it the music software vendor, the software user, or the software program itself? Simple enough question, and the answer provided by the presenter, David Harvey (CTO of Sibelius Software), was not that surprising either. Why the copyright belongs to the software user of course!

Many arguments are used in support of this position, for example, the makers of KOAN, (a music generation program) are said to have included DRM like features with which the user can control the use of their programs. Furthermore, because the software generates its music via user created rules the resulting work, (and copyright) should generally belong to them.

Now that’s all very well until you think about the possible ramifications if a computer program should ever pass the Turing test. In these days of online transactions, and perhaps moreso in future, how can you really prove that the ‘software user’ is entirely human. Also where does it state in copyright law that the author of a work must be human – or is it just assumed?

As ever, I would dearly love to get your thoughts and comments on the above questions.