Archive for June, 2008

At Last, Some Manners for Digital Devices

June 14, 2008 Leave a comment

…And about time too, some might say. According to this slashdot article, Microsoft has recently applied for some patents to help enforce so called Digital Manners Policies on digital devices. It would ensure that devices like cameras, mobile phones, games consoles, etc. are made to obey specific usage guidelines or policies in the controlled zones. Certainly sounds like we might be talking DRM on steroids.

Imagine the possibilities such a development would bring; no more annoying mobile phone ringtones in specific zones (e.g. at the cinema, in places of worship or in the quiet coaches on trains); no more flash photography in restricted areas (the paparazzi would hate that one); and even no more excessive speeding in low speed areas like schools and residential areas (yes, your car is a digital device too). However, one big fly in the ointment is that such schemes never seem to take into account how users might feel about someone / something else taking control of their devices. Media DRM painfully brought home the message that users do not take kindly to the idea of not actually ‘owning’ their own digital media, so just imagine how they might react when their digital device chooses to obey someone else’s commands.

That said it still appears that digital manners and similar initiatives may be pointing the way towards what could eventually become the next phase of development for digital and Internet technologies, i.e. location and context aware mobile applications and services. If web 2.0 is all about collaboration and social computing / networking / media, then web 2.5 or perhaps even web 3.0 (to borrow the jargon) seems likely to be focused around contextual computing / networking / media. Now that would be something, don’t you think?


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.


ACTA – Yet Another IP Focused International Trade Agreement

June 1, 2008 Leave a comment

The fight to create a tougher climate against IP infringement in order to provide better / further protection for rights holders may have taken another step forward with a proposal, last autumn, to introduce a global Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). However, some dissenters already question the transparency and ultimate motive of this initiative.

According to the ACTA article on, a key feature of this proposal is the fact that it has been created and pushed by key developed countries like: the US, Japan, Switzerland and the EU, (along with invited input from like-minded countries such as Canada and Australia), but without much involvement from certain countries that do not toe the line with regards to international IP industry. Also the proposal’s discussion paper (which is available on the site) contained several interesting points including:

  1. The “Pirate Bay killer” clause – “designed to criminalise the non-profit facilitation of unauthorised information exchange on the internet”. Non-profit facilitation of information / content sharing has been a key “good guy” aspect of sites like Wikileaks and Torrent trackers alike

  2. Tougher enforcement of IP rights over the Internet – could result in the introduction of “new cooperation requirements upon internet service providers, including perfunctionary disclosure of customer information”. This would support such initiatives like the 3 Strikes rule in countries like France, Canada, Japan and the UK

  3. Compensation claims by rights holders – “including measures to overcome the problem of rights holders not being able to get sufficient compensation due to difficulty in assessing the full extent of the damage”.This did not stop the award of substantial damages to rights holders in the controversial RIAA versus Jammie Thomas case last year.
  4. A DMCA-like proposition – which provides for “remedies against circumvention of technological protection measures used by copyright owners and the trafficking of circumvention devices”. This has become almost standard boiler plate for IP related initiatives.

To conclude, it appears, yet again, that there is nothing new under the sun, and initiatives like these are a dime a dozen when it comes to the international IP system. Those that subscribe to the global IP system will always want protection from those that don’t, even if it means conveniently forgetting how the former acquired their IP in the first place. Ultimately this is just another means to maintain the status quo, driven by those with vested interests in keeping things the way they are (even in this brave new world), but the question remains as to whether things really ought to stay the same, given the unprecedented level of change we are faced with in an increasingly ‘single’ connected world of today.


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

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