Home > Copyright > A ‘softer’ DPP may rise from the ashes of DRM

A ‘softer’ DPP may rise from the ashes of DRM

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

“What if digital rights management could be turned into “consumer rights management” and people could actually own and fully control the digital content they purchase? That’s the dream of Paul Sweazey, who’s heading up a new study group on “digital personal property” at the IEEE.

Digital personal property (DPP) is an attempt to make consumers treat digital media like physical objects. For instance, you might loan your car to a friend, a family member, or a neighbor. You might do so on many different occasions and for different lengths of time.

DPP hopes to do this by relying on two major pieces: a title folder and a playkey. The title folder contains the content in question, it’s encrypted, and it can be copied and passed around freely. To access the content inside, however, you’ll need the playkey, which is delivered to the buyer of a digital media file and lives within “tamper-protected circuit” inside some device (computer, cell phone, router) or online at a playkey bank account. Controlling the playkey means that you control the media, and you truly own it, since no part of the system needs to phone home, and it imposes no restrictions on copying (except for those that arise naturally from fear of loss).

The playkey, unlike the title folder, can’t be copied—but it can be moved. To give your friends and family access to the file in question, you can send them a copy but must also provide a link to the playkey. Under the DPP system, though, anyone who can access the playkey can also decide to move it to their own digital vault—in essence, anyone can take the content from you, and you would no longer have access to the media files in question if they did so.

To Sweazey, this system solves most consumer problems with DRM: no Internet tether on files, no online authentication servers that could go dark, and the unlimited ability to backup files and share them with others. Want to send a song to fifty friends? You can. Want to back it up online, on DVD, on your NAS, and on 3.5″ floppy disks? Knock yourself out. Want to resell DPP files by transferring the playkey to a new owner? You can. You just can’t share with the entire world—or someone will steal your purchase.”

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