Don Marti

Tue 14 Jun 2005 09:50:27 PM PDT

Declan McCullagh and Milana Homsi on DRM

This paper on not regulating DRM in either direction makes some good points about the advantages of letting DRM schemes succeed or fail in the marketplace (I think they'll fail) instead of mandating DRM, giving it the force of law as the DMCA now does, or regulating it.

One important point that the legislative proposals covered don't address, though, is whether government agencies themselves should be allowed to enter into DRM contracts, such as the licenses of DRM-implementing software or the terms of service of information services that use DRM. As we've seen in the debate on free and proprietary software in government, the government's technology purchasing decisions do distort the market—sometimes, when a particular technology is required to communicate with the government, even acting as a tax on non-government users, as when the FCC ULS formerly required Microsoft Windows.

A true hands-off policy on DRM means avoiding concealed mandates through government purchasing, too.