challenge of choosing for more
Leonardo Chiariglione – CEDEO.net
Normal humans have no difficulty in accomplishing the task of choosing. Unfortunately the same is not necessarily true when it comes to groups of humans, and even more so when the group of humans involved is the entire society.
This is the case of media. After the walls of media fell at the sound of digital technologies, society as a whole is struggling with the alternatives of resisting the old or embracing new. As this is one lucky case where the choice is between a bad and a good option, the resistance made by those who stubbornly cling on the bad option makes one believe that in the field of television choosing more instead of less must be a challenge.This paper intends to show that it is possible today to choose for more.
National television services started using a television system designed to serve the purpose of protecting locally produced television content and distributing it to a geographically defined area as a “public” or “commercial” service.Setting aside the minor details mentioned above, it was not difficult to make the decision as the benefits were clear to all parties involved: operators, because new business opportunities were opening, end users because they had something valuable they did not have before and public authorities because they could show how much they cared of citizens’ well being.
The design parameters of the new standard obeyed to slightly different constraints compared with the original one. The issue was no longer just one of being able to protect internally produced television content, but one of actually promoting it (if you happened to be part of the élite countries of France, Germany and United States) or accepting a subordinate role (all the other countries) but selling oné choice to the best bidder.Again setting aside the minor detail mentioned above, it was not difficult to make the decision as the benefits were clear to all parties involved: operators, because it provided they could revamp their offer, end users because the user experience was so much better and public authorities because they again could show how much they cared of their citizens’ well being.
This was great news because it allowed the creation of a two-tier service, one paying – with access to a special service with premium content – and the other not paying (sort of) – with access to a basic service. However, it entailed the need to rebuild and even to extend significant parts of an end-to-end television systemBut, again, the benefits of the new options were clear: to operators, because they could find new business opportunities and to end-users because getting premium content, for those interested, was a good reason to part from their money.
The case of public authorities was less clear. If pay TV was provided via satellite, there was not much they could say. But if pay TV was done on terrestrial frequency it was a stretch to justify the leasing of significant chunks of a (very) finite public resource called radio spectrum to private television businesses who would offer their services discriminating paying and non-paying customers. But politics is the art of the possible.
The MPEG-2 technology that made digital television possible had been designed to allow building a common digital television infrastructure and in that sense the countries that immediately selected the Free-To-Air digital television model had an easy ride. Those that selected the pay TV model found the ride less comfortable because pay TV – no matter whether it is analogue or digital – still requires building an end-to-end television chains from scratch.The choice made, however, looked easy. Operators find new business opportunities or extend those they already had with analogue pay TV while end users get more premium content – for more cost.
Once obtained, the information can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, e.g. it can be shared. Information can also be created without much hassle and posted, and can be merged with information made by others.Oh, and I was forgetting it: it is also for free. But this is another story...
Is it surprising that people find it easy to make choices, and that more and more people emigrate to the parallel world?
I know the arguments of both warring sides. I know that in terms of law one side has the upper hand. But is that relevant, once you millions of people denying not the principles but the consequences of the law? Does that side really think that the transformation of content scarcity into content abundance enabled by digital technologies can by stopped by recreating artificial scarcity enabled by the different DRMs employed by the various fiefdoms seconded by the force of law?End users have tasted abundance…
What about the subjects of DRM fiefdoms – the end users? They look across the walled garden in which they are confined – and from time to time escape from – and they wish they could have as many sources of information as in the parallel world. But the poor guys are locked in their walled garden and the only thing they are expected to do is to just watch what they are administered that, by the way, also includes commercials.More and more people are getting accustomed to freedom and abundance and if the law stands in their way, they simply do not respect it, because they perceive the law as a heavy-handed and not-so-smart trick to take away the freedoms acquired without giving anything in exchange.
The European Commission, which is behind some of these laws, can well say that they are agnostic in the area of television standards but in practice they are taking side by backing up a specific business model – the one that enables the creation of DRM fiefdoms.Is there a surprise if in this sensitive area European citizens feel ever more alienated from the Commission in Brussels?
It is high time that operators start giving end users what they want: more, not less; for a fee, if need be. Then it will be appropriate to request citizens to respect the law.It is just a matter of choosing for more, not for less...
The Digital Media Manifesto was published on the 30th of September 2003 . Among the recommendations was the establishment of an organisation, the Digital Media Project (DMP) that would operate to remove the obstacles to the full exploitation of the benefits of digital media. The DMP was established on the 1st of December 2003 as not-for-profit organisation.The basic DMP position is that digital technologies are an asset of mankind, and creators, intermediaries and end-users should all benefit from them. The vehicle to achieve this goal is standardisation of appropriate protocols between value-chain users, so that everybody has the means to design and build their own value chains using the same building blocks.
In other words, the means to achieve the goal is to provide isDRM, an interoperable and scalable DRM standard.Implementing this vision is not a simple matter because as much as there is no universal way of doing business with media, there is no universal DRM system to develop a standard for. Still isDRM must satisfy the manifold needs of value chain players, provide interoperability and allow to continuously inject innovation into the system.
Therefore the target of the standard cannot be (high-level) functions performed in existing value-chains, because it is hard to know how they will evolve, nor in future value-chains, because it is even harder to know what they will look like). The target can be (low-level) functions, called Primitive Functions, because existing functions can be implemented as combination of Primitive Functions and future functions can be implemented as combinations of existing and new Primitive Functions.The process to define a standard for Primitive Functions is the following:
Tab. 1 – The DMP Approved Documents
|#1||Value-Chain Functions & Requirements||Informative|
|#3||Interoperable DRM Platform||Normative|
|#4||Use Cases and Value Chains||Normative|
|#5||Certification and Registration Authorities||Normative|
|#9||Mapping of Traditional Rights and Usages to Digital Space||Informative|
The isDRM, as enabled by the DMP specifications, has a number of important features not shares by any other “DRM-related” specification
 The Digital Media Manifesto, 2003/09/30, http://www.chiariglione.org/manifesto/dmm.htm
 The Digital Media Project, Interoperable DRM Platform, Phase I, April 2005 http://www.dmpf.org/open/dmp0430.zip
 The Digital Media Project, Interoperable DRM Platform, Phase II, February 2006 http://www.dmpf.org/project/ga09/idp-2.html
 The Digital Media Project, Call for Proposals for General Tools for Digital Media Value Chains,February 2006, http://www.dmpf.org/project/ga09/idp-3_cfp.html,