DRM Must Evolve to Satisfy Needs of Both
Content Owners and End Users or Face
Abandonment, Says Arthur D. Little
May 27, 2010 06:03 AM Eastern Daylight Time
LONDON--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Arthur D. Little’s new report, “Untying the Gordian Knot",
examines the current state of play in Digital Rights Management (DRM) and concludes that systems must evolve to
deliver both acceptable content protection for owners and maximum interoperability for users, otherwise DRM may
be abandoned altogether.
While DRM has been used since the early days of digital content distribution, it has long been a source of
controversy, with complex proprietary systems creating integration headaches for manufacturers and distributors,
and preventing end users from legitimately sharing content across different devices and platforms. The rise of digital
piracy can even be part-blamed on the inflexibility of traditional DRM systems, with users resorting to file sharing as
not only the cheapest, but also easiest way of accessing and sharing content.
The perceived failure of DRM to stop piracy has led some stakeholders – most notably Apple – to abandon it in
favor of ‘watermarking’ digital content and linking it to individual consumers, in order for leakage to be better
tracked and file sharers more easily prosecuted. However, this approach raises serious issues relating to the potential
blacklisting and criminalization of users, particularly in the context of online identity theft.
Arthur D. Little foresees three possible scenarios for DRM:
1. Continued fragmentation of proprietary DRM systems and continued limited fulfillment of stakeholders’ needs
2. Gradual abandonment of DRM in favor of other content tracking techniques such as watermarking or
3. Emergence of next generation DRM system(s) that manage to balance end user needs with the requirements of all
“The present situation is the worst of all worlds. Scrapping DRM altogether would be an improvement over today’