About Leonardo Chiariglione: He is a renowned expert in the standards setting community, most notably as convenor of ISO's Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and as first Executive Director of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI). He worked for more than thirty years for Telecom Italia within CSELT, the corporate research centre of this group, which was later named Telecom Italia Lab, of which he became Vice President Multimedia in 2001. In 2003 he left Telecom Italia to run his own consulting business. In December 2003 he spearheaded the establishment of the Digital Media Project, a non-profit organisation promoting the take-off of Digital Media on the basis of interoperable DRM systems considering the interests of all actors.

INDICARE: The Digital Media Project (DMP) has been under way (publication of the "Digital Media Manifesto" 30.9.2003; established as organisation 1.12.2003) for a year or so. The mission of the project and the work done are well documented (see DMP website and document list). Therefore to start with, let me briefly summarise the rationale of DMP as derived from public sources. DMP advocates standardised and interoperable Digital Rights Management (DRM) – as opposed to common practice – to enable a real take-off of digital media. The initiative aims at developing technical specifications for Interoperable DRM. As a necessary complement to a successful deployment of these specifications DMP also intends to recommend actions to policy makers, legislators, and other authorities. In the Manifesto, the need to agree on end user rights in a digital environment is highlighted; further issues are the phasing out of legacy systems (in particular levy schemes), the need to remove the obstacles to broadband access and to enable a "full-blown digital media market", the reorganisation of the standards making process maintaining fair access to intellectual property, the need for DRM platforms to be interoperable along the entire value chain, accordingly new B2B relationships, and interoperable end-user devices and competitive consumer markets. Please correct me if I am wrong.

My first question is if new issues arose during the last year and what topics you are currently focussing on?

L. Chiariglione: In the past year DMP has held four General Assemblies, reviewed and confirmed the outcome of the Digital Media Manifesto, progressed the development of requirements for the Interoperable DRM Platform (the name of the DMP specification, IDP for short) using inputs from a large number of sources, issued a first Call for Proposals, received and reviewed a large number of responses and created a first working draft of the IDP specification with the goal to publish it in April 2005.

On the policy side DMP has identified and described a sizeable number of Traditional Rights and Usages (TRU) and is in the process of issuing a Call for Contributions on that work. These will be used to draft a TRU Recommended Action. On the other policy issues DMP has already started work by organising two workshops on "Development of and access to standards" and on "Analogue legacies in the digital space". A workshop on "Deployment of Broadband Access" will be held at the January meeting.

INDICARE: What's particularly interesting for INDICARE is the claim that your approach will favour consumers. What are the benefits of DRM you envisage for consumers, and to what extent are consumers and consumer organisations involved in DMP?

L. Chiariglione: The basic DMP position, inherited from the Digital Media Manifesto, is that digital media technologies are an asset of mankind and that everybody in the value-chain – creators, end-users and all other intermediaries offering services in between – should benefit from them. But we have seen enough of the results of the wild use of digital media technologies to understand that this is not happening. DRM is the technology that can, on the one hand, let rights holders receive a just remuneration for their efforts and, on the other, let end-users fully exploit the potential of digital media.

DMP keeps working contacts with its grass root base developed at the time of the Digital Media Manifesto. Participation in DMP meetings was open to anybody until October and e-mail reflectors are also open with the exception of those dealing with technology choices. It has also started a dialogue with BEUC, witness the BEUC speaker who attended the Analogue Legacies workshop held in October.

INDICARE: Taking a look at the DMP member list the support by grass root organisations and consumer organisations is not apparent…

L. Chiariglione: As I said the dialogue with consumer organisations has barely started. There are several very active individuals populating our email reflectors, some of them even attending our meetings.

INDICARE: One intriguing strand of work within DMP is in my view the analysis of traditional rights and usages (TRU) in order to figure out in which way they may survive in the digital environment. Are there rights which won't survive in a digital environment, e.g. the right to private copy, so fiercely debated in public?

L. Chiariglione: The analysis of how TRUs can be mapped to the digital space is still ongoing, but a priori there is no reason why a TRU listed on the DMP web site cannot be preserved in the digital space. In most cases it cannot be, however, an automatic translation.

“Copy” is not necessarily a major concern for DMP. If you call “TRU to copy” as “TRU to access”, you have started to clear the ground.

INDICARE: That's a delicate point. Digital media consumption and use requires again and again technical access and this fact can be exploited to generate streams of income – in a way that's a basic function of DRM. In addition new techniques are developed (e.g. streaming, rights lockers) which might even render copying obsolete. Nevertheless good old purchasing and enjoying traditional rights like making copies for friends or the right to resell may remain important. Maybe my reasoning is going astray, so please continue to clear the ground a little bit further…

L. Chiariglione: I see no reason why purchasing physical media should not continue to be possible. This, however, is not a technology issue, because what you ask can be easily achieved. The point is again the collision of technical possibilities with TRUs. As I said before DMP is preparing a document that will be published with a Call for Contributions. Anybody can join the discussions on this document now and can respond to the Call when it is published.

INDICARE: Mhm, I was thinking of the purchase of digital online media in first place…

L. Chiariglione: Copy still makes practical sense when you buy something physical with digital media on it. In that case it is understandable that some people may want to be able to do the same that they did with analogue media. If we talk about digital online media, however, then "copy" is a solution, while the problem is, as DMP has identified it with its TRU #19, "ability to make continued access".

INDICARE: Consumer organisations like BEUC and experts ask to clearly state what consumer rights are and to declare these user rights explicitly in legislation. I can imagine that you support this idea, but I am not sure…

L. Chiariglione: Making pompous statements a priori on rights and wrongs will not take us very far, as we will immediately be bogged down in discussing first principles. We have to concretely see on a case-by-case basis how individual TRUs can be mapped to the digital space.

INDICARE: There is an interesting statement (see Essentials of DMP) that end-users now have at their disposal manifold means to acquire digital content media inexpensively or even for free, and that common sense suggests that some of those means should be illegal. What exactly do you mean by "common sense" here? Common sense might be a difficult concept when common practice differs from common sense. You also say law clashes with common sense? But again, many scientists and civil rights advocates are unhappy with e.g. the anticircumvention provisions of the EU Copyright Directive. Are there two types of common sense?

L. Chiariglione: Getting thousands of music or video files for free, when they are supposed to be on sale, clashes with my sense of justice. Bringing 12 year old kids to court is a shame for a society that lets this happen. My article that you quote above has nothing to do with the EU Copyright Directive.

INDICARE: Let me turn to another subject. In the INDICARE Monitor we published an article by Stefan Bechtold about "value-centred design" of DRM, i.e. a DRM solution able to balance interests of all actors along the value-chain and also of end users. Do you as a technical expert think that this concept can be implemented? How can content protection by DRMs and the granting of exceptions be put under one hat?

L. Chiariglione: You seem to assume that there is a DRM technology with nuts and bolts that is designed in such a way that every business in the value-chain has its turf protected against intrusions. This can hardly be the case. Digital technologies have intrinsically disruptive effects as much as past waves of technologies, starting from Gutenberg’s, had disruptive effects, actually more. What should be done – and that is indeed what DMP is doing – is to design a DRM platform that provides a level playing field. The most important feature of such a platform is interoperability. This is good for business players in the value chain but for creators and end-users as well.

INDICARE: DRM means different things to different people. Some think of "forensic DRM", of Light Weight DRM, others of Trusted Computing (TC) platforms as a prerequisite for efficient protection of digital content. What is your definition of DRM systems, and what do you think of the potential of Light Weight DRM on the one hand and TC on the other hand. How are these options reflected in the work of DMP?

L. Chiariglione: Your question gives me the opportunity to give more details about the approach that DMP is following in designing the Interoperable DRM Platform specification. As I said before, and because value chains are so diverse and business player attitudes are countless, it is impossible to design a “one size fits all” monolithic DRM solution. So what DMP is doing is to develop an Interoperable DRM Platform specification that is a toolkit. Those who want a lightweight DRM solution can find it in the toolkit, those who need a heavyweight solution can find it there as well.
I believe that this possibility of building DRM solutions “à la carte” is one of the most promising aspects of the DMP Interoperable DRM Platform specification. This entails a number of technical problems that affect interoperability, but is the only way to create a DRM solution that is not going to be forced on users against their needs and is future proof.

INDICARE: Another interesting interoperability issue which you raise is interoperable end-user devices and your demand for competitive markets for these devices. I do not see very clearly what you have in mind. If I think of the MP3-player market, it seems to be quite competitive, and with regard to the proprietary portable music players (iPod, Sony, etc.), can't we be confident that market dynamics will achieve interoperability in the mid term.

L. Chiariglione: Yes, the MP3 player market is very open and competitive. So, would it not be great if we could have a market for players of governed content that is as open and competitive as the MP3 player market? This is what DMP intends to achieve with its end-user device specification.

Your hint that “market dynamics will achieve interoperability in the mid term” has value as a hope, but is not substantiated by any proof. Just see what has happened to the market of pay TV set top boxes. Ten years after it started it is still very closed and controlled by the service providers (who, BTW keep on losing money 10 years after they started this type of business).

INDICARE: In many respects I see your vision close to the official EC policy, thinking of the new EU Copyright directive and its commitment to DRM, the phasing out of levy systems, the eEurope 2005 Action Plan pushing broadband. What actions would you recommend the European Commission to better meet your vision of the digital media market take off?

L. Chiariglione: My philosophical position is that public authorities should not impose standards, with the exception of very special cases like safety etc. On the other hand if standards do not appear by themselves public authorities should promote their establishment. So, if the European Commission is serious about Interoperable DRM – as the Final Report of the High Level Group seems to confirm – and no other body – but DMP – is working on an Interoperable DRM standard …

INDICARE: Okay, last question, anyone will wonder what an impact a non-profit organisation with c. 20 members might have in a world of transnational corporations, media and software giants, think tanks, and powerful lobbies… .

L. Chiariglione: One year after its establishment MPEG had about the same number of members as DMP today and MPEG succeeded in doing what other well-established and supported organisation had failed to achieve.

INDICARE: Time will tell. In any case, I have learnt about the importance of DMP for all concerned with DRM standards and interoperability. I am also looking forward to the envisaged Recommended Action documents and expect that they might also stimulate the discussions at INDICARE. Thank you very much for this interview.

The following background material does not appear in alphabetical order as usual. Here we prefer to refer first to the personal webpage of our interview partner, then to the DMP website and further documents making the progress of DMP clear, before we make reference to documents explaining in more detail the rationale behind the project. Finally we refer to some documents related to the issue of "Traditional Rights and Usages", so important for consumer acceptability of DRM solutions.
Status: first posted 22/11/04; included in INDICARE Monitor Vol. 1, No 6/7, 17 December 2004; licensed under Creative Commons
URL: http://www.indicare.org/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=58