Metrics for Digital Rights Management
September 8, 2006
Filed under Digital Copyright
On Thursday CDT released a paper called "Evaluating DRM: Building a Marketplace for the Convergent World." We informally call it our "metrics" paper, because it aims to provide metrics for evaluating DRM. Of course, these aren't metrics in the sense of fully quantifiable criteria that can be precisely measured and recorded. Nor have we attempted to tell people what specific DRM schemes or products they should or shouldn't purchase. Rather, we try to lay out systematically the types of questions one would want to ask to understand all the various choices and tradeoffs involved in a given DRM scheme. It's a set of tools. The paper starts from the premise that, like it or not, DRM is likely to be a continuing feature of the media marketplace. But the forms DRM will take, and the impact it will have, will depend in part upon how the public responds to it in that marketplace. We hope the paper can contribute to ongoing discussion about both DRM in general and in specific implementations. As a practical matter, it may be that the kind of systematic inquiry suggested by these metrics is more likely to be undertaken by product reviewers and tech enthusiasts than by members of the mainstream public. But in the age of the Internet, word can get around. In the end, judgments about what DRM-equipped products represent good bargains, given price and other factors, will be up to individuals. Our hope is that there will be sufficient choices, and sufficient information, for consumers to vote with their wallets. This paper was in the works for a while and a number of folks provided valuable input and comments. In-house, Alissa Cooper, Ross Schulman, Michael Steffen, and Ross Housewright all contributed. Susan Crawford of Cardozo Law School, Bill Rosenblatt of DRM Watch, and Bruce Gitlin, among others, were generous in providing detailed and knowledgeable feedback. We also did a quick online cheat sheet laying out the basic metrics, with links to the explanatory text from the paper.