Reshaping the Digital Media Value-Chain – For the Better

Leonardo Chiariglione, Digital Media Strategist –


Executive summary

The paper illustrates the approach adopted by the Digital Media Project to enable a full digital media experience with advantages for all users of the media value-chains, including creators and end-users. The approach is based on a standard for interoperable Digital Rights Management (DRM) that accommodates Traditional Rights and Usages (TRU).


1          Introduction

Ever since technology was introduced to help creation, distribution and consumption of media there has been a tension between those who manage “rights to content” – usually called “rights holders” –, intermediaries in the media value-chain and end-users. Still the technologies in use until some ten years ago, that we will call “analogue” were usually so unwieldy that for each new technology a new equilibrium point could be reached, sometimes with the help of legislation and the courts.


The explosive combination of Digital Signal Processing, Personal Computers and Digital Networks, usually called “digital technologies”, have empowered intermediaries and end-users to do more with media than they could ever have imagined before. The new situation has exacerbated the contrast that has always existed between these three classes of “users” of the media value-chain. On the one hand rights holders enforce the rights that have been granted to them by successive legislations, including those granted by recent legislation stemming from the WIPO Copyright Treaty that was planned to cover the use of digital technologies [1]. On the other intermediaries and end-users try to cling on rights and exceptions that were traditionally assigned to them, whose applicability to the new digital space is often disputed by other parties affected.


The result is that in the last ten years the great promises of digital media have not been delivered. What we are witnessing is on the one hand the continuous looting of rights holders’ assets that seriously affect their economic viability and on the other the ongoing deployment of media distribution that is based on Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies that limit, in some cases substantially and always unilaterally, the Traditional Rights and Usages (TRU) of media users.


In this situation we see public authorities either shying away from an issue that is admittedly thorny, but critical for the future of society or boldly getting into it only to retreat after declaring victory but actually without even scratching the surface of a solution. In this vacuum other public authorities – the courts – are busy creating the legal framework of digital media by applying laws or court cases that were the result of just another age.


The field of civil liberties advocates is obviously very involved in this issue but, in most cases these organisations are fighting a rearguard battle. As soon as there is major clash between the use of digital technologies or regulation with TRUs, these organisation side with those affected by the technology or regulation. There is no doubt that this role is important in a democratic society, but it is a far cry from the what is really needed, i.e. actively proposing a way out of this stalemate.


Proposals do come from some quarters but most of them are, in the opinion of the author, hopelessly idealistic. Indeed it would be great if a gifted musician could sustain himself by giving away his music because he can make money from his real time performances. The problem is that bringing a couple of cases where this has happened does not prove that this is a universal solution to a complex problem This would not be a problem per se if the advocates of these proposals did not take the stance that, because they think there is a solution, no other solution that deviates from what they propose should be considered.


Two years ago the author of this paper launched the idea of the Digital Media Manifesto (DMM), a grass root initiative to discuss the digital media situation outlined above. In less than three months the movement published the Manifesto [2] where a solution to the stalemate was proposed with the establishment of a not-for-profit organisation called the Digital Media Project (DMP) [ REF _Ref105735918 \r \h 3]. The goal of DMP should be the twin development of technical specifications of interoperable DRM and the practical means to support TRUs in an interoperable DRM framework.


Today the DMP can claim to be on its way to achieve the goals that were assigned to it by the DMM. In April 2005, less than 18 months since its establishment, the first interoperable DRM specification was approved, the first working draft of the second interoperable DRM specification was in development and a Call for Contributions on “Mapping of TRUs to the digital space” has been issued. The intention is to publish the second interoperable DRM specification in October 2005 and a Recommended Action on TRUs in January 2006.


This paper is about how media value-chains can change thanks to the availability of interoperable DRM specifications which support Traditional Rights and Usages.


2          Value-chains

Creating value-chains is a primary function of homo oeconomicus. This is true for most activities but achieves a distinct form in the case of value-chains created to “connect” those who produce with those who consume intellectual creations. In this paper we will call media value-chains those designed to achieve this goal.


No matter how back in the past one goes traces of media value chains can be found. To produce the Chinese tortoise shells with engraved ancient Chinese characters a series of economic actors were required. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, required at funerals demanded a dedicated set of economic actors. Similarly, the Babylonian clay tablets and the Roman wax tablets required a semi-industrial arrangement. Very modern – in spite of its 2,000 years – is the case of Titus Pomponius Atticus who used learned slaves to copy manuscripts and then distributed them throughout the Roman Empire. In spite of being “only” 1,000 year old, the value chain that created the medieval manuscripts looks ancient, while the reported cases of Chinese publishers at about the same time, performing the same functions with similar concerns as today’s publishers – but with manuscripts – looks again very modern.


The media value-chains have seen many examples of stately interventions, not always – with today’s eyes – for the better. The royal Assyrian library may have been established to serve sovereign needs, but the Great Library of Alexandria was meant to serve the needs of the people – if by this word we mean the thin layer of Herrenvolk who could afford just minding their own intellectual challenges by virtue of having slaves working for them. But the very burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, setting aside the controversy of how it actually happened, is an example of stately intervention in media value chains. Medieval amanuenses were another form of stately (religious, which at that time was almost the same) intervention – for the better, this time. Similar to the case of the Great Library of Alexandria is the burning of Aztec books at the hand of Spaniards in Mexico, while the “imprimatur” system was a powerful means to control the distribution of media. Lastly the authors’ societies, in Europe mostly created at the initiative of the state, are another example of stately intervention to support national cultures by propping up authors and, in some cases, publishers as well.


One should not think of value-chains as something static. As soon as a value-chain is created there is a need to add more features to it. One important means to achieve this goal is by using technology. So we have seen Arabian paper replacing parchment in Europe, printing replacing the copy of a manuscript, photography replacing portrait painting, telegraphy replacing messengers, compact disc replacing compact cassette, DVD replacing VHS, MP3 replacing compact disc... All this requires a word of caution, though. Replacement does not happen “instantaneously”, but is the result of a possibly long process.


If the raison d’être of a media value-chain is to connect creators and consumer, this does not mean that the two are in the driver’s seat. Actually, the more there is technology, the more value-chains are shaped by intermediaries. They are primarily interested in making sure that the entry threshold remains high and the distribution channel is under strict control. These two main goals are achieved by an array of actions such as making expensive content and rich offers of services, flooding the market with a broad range of content, introducing expensive technologies, concentrating on big hits, etc. There is nothing new here. Merchants on the silk road did not behave much differently.


3          Digital technologies

With this name we mean the explosive mix of the technologies behind Digital Signal Processing (DSP) i.e. the ability to represent efficiently media in digital form, Personal Computers and digital devices with their ability to process the high bitrate of digital media and Digital Networks, with their ability to move content instantaneously and inexpensively to anybody in the network.


It is an explosive mix because the three technologies together have proved capable of uprooting the role of intermediaries. Indeed it is so much easier to create, distribute, find and consume content in the digital space. In other words most of the reasons that had made “analogue” content an object of desire and, therefore, “valuable”, disappear. The question is then: what determines the (monetary) value of digital media?


It is too early to despair, because here are some of the options that people have considered and some times implemented to withstand the loss of content value.


Create your own value-chain by using security technologies (DRM). This is in a way the easiest thing to do because the “analogue way” of doing business, namely high entry threshold and distribution control is essentially preserved. However, DRM is a new cost that is added across a range of value-chain players and the question of who will pay for the technology does not have a straightforward answer.


Rely on the good will of users. This means to borrow some techniques experimented with computer software (but actually discontinued in that domain long time ago) such as “Pay, if you want to continue reading my novel” or “Make a donation if you want me to continue creating”.


Offer service, not content. This is a view that, since there is so much content around, money should be made from offering services related to content, not content, that everybody can easily get. There is obviously a high degree of speculation in this idea that basically keeps a possibly new band of intermediaries in the driver’s seat.


Give up hope of being paid for your creation. This is view that is often proposed. It would indeed be great if people could freely create and freely donate their creations and users could freely access them. This could indeed work if everybody had a fat bank account or were a tenured professor. Unfortunately this is not the world we know. Many artists struggle to make ends meet and work hard to get to success, if ever they get to it.


In designing the world of digital media it would be good to remember the words of the Florentine Secretary [4]:


... for many have pictured republics and principalities which in fact have never been known or seen, because how one lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation...


4          Working with digital media

There is no reason to make a philosophical debate about what should or should not be done based on the experience of analogue media, because digital media can let people make their own dreams real. In this chapter we will offer a number of illustrative scenarios where digital media are used in ways that were cumbersome or not possible at all in the analogue era.


Open Release

Imagine that I create what I consider an outstanding piece of work, but no one is willing to publish it. With digital technologies I can resort to Open Release, i.e. I create a package with my content, metadata about the content and usage rules, and then I post the package on my web site[1]. Note that at this stage there is no need to encrypt my content because, if my work becomes famous, later on I will be still be able to exploit it economically as a new release, possibly using more robust content control technologies.


Open Search

Imagine now that I run a commercial web site in a world where there is plenty of valuable Open Release content around and I start indexing it using their metadata and usage rules. I could put in place a business whereby I give away basic authoring and browsing tools, I offer free hosting of content on my web site and then I engage in intermediation between sellers and buyers of Open Release content.


Flat-taxed content use

Imagine now that a country decides that its citizens should have free access to all works created in that country and creators should be remunerated in proportion to the use or their works. In other words, creators should register their works and release them, while users would use content freely, every time generating use data. A state-appointed agency would then collect a flat “content use tax”, collect use data and redistribute revenues to creators[2].


Personal photography

If today I take pictures and I pass them on to a friend or business partner I do not know how they will end up being used. But digital technologies allow me to encrypt my pictures, add usage rules to them and create a file that I can send to my friend or business partner. The advantage is that only my friend will be able to see the pictures because he is the only one who will get the decryption key from me or from a service provider.


Internet distribution

Imagine a garage band that, after having achieved notoriety by Open Releasing their music, tries to actually sell it. Today the only way is by printing and distributing CDs, a hopeless task without a contract with label. Today’s DRM is an even more impossible task as it requires DRM-specific players that the garage band can obviously not afford. But an interoperable DRM standard would allow the garage band to purchase the necessary authoring and e-commerce tools at a low price from competing suppliers and rely on a population of devices capable of playing governed content


This short sequence of examples shows that the digital media world does not necessarily obey to the same rules of the analogue media world. Being able to release content by retaining “control” of it is not just for incumbent media companies but for small companies and even individuals. “Control” technologies can be used to preserve and enhance the status quo because they that enable the establishment of a high entry threshold to content distribution and seal the distribution against competition better than it was ever possible before. On the other hand “control” technologies can also help break the status quo because they can lower the entry threshold to content distribution and create a competitive market, can support business models based on “long tails” [7], help the unknown artist to make himself known because of the quality of his work and not because some unknown entity controlling the distribution has decided to back him.

What discriminates the two versions of DRM is a simple word: “interoperability”.


5          Digital Rights Management

The “control” we are talking about is what is commonly called Digital Rights Management (DRM).


As for everything that is new, and on top of it, technically hard to understand, there is a lot of confusion with this term. A first step to clear the confusion is by introducing a definition. The one quoted here has been provided by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) in the USA:


DRM is a system of IT components and services, corresponding law, policies and business models which strive to distribute and control IP and its rights.


The definition is not perfect because it bundles together the two separate functions of “management” and “protection” that too many people confuse. This separation is spelled out in the term “Intellectual Property Management and Protection” (IPMP), which is used within the MPEG group [8].


In spite of its possible cause of confusion, in the following we will use the more common term DRM, but it is important to stress that DRM does not necessarily mean protection. All cases considered in the preceding chapter can only be realised using some sort on DRM technology. However, while the 1st and 2nd case only need “management”, the 3rd, 4th and 5th case would normally require “protection”. In the digital world, rights enshrined in the 120 years old Berne Convention [9] such as to have one’s authorship recognised, to object to distortion or mutilation of works, to make quotes from works and to use works for teaching can more effectively be supported using DRM technologies, but not necessarily of the protection type.


A value-chain is a special type of communication system linking different users of the value-chain and DRM is a technology that is added to the system for better management and control of the flow of information through it. As for all communication systems, if the specification of the technology is known and open, anybody can communicate with anybody else, possibly with the payment of a fee to a third party. If the specification is not known or, if it is, is not open, and the communication system is owned by a third party, this party becomes a gatekeeper. For this reason DRM is a technology that can be used to preserve or break the status quo.


If a value-chain or a portion of it employs a DRM system that is closed or cannot be independently implemented (that from now on will be called “non-interoperable”), it is very easy to preserve the status quo, actually the access threshold gets even higher and the distribution control tighter. But if a value-chain or a portion of it employs a DRM system that is based on open specifications that can be independently implemented (that from now on will be called “interoperable”) the advantages of low access threshold to creators and users demonstrated by such social phenomena as MP3 and DivX can be combined with the possibility to control the use of digital media, a condition that is known to work to preserve the creators’ incentive to continue creating.


6          Interoperable DRM

Interoperability (or lack thereof) is one of the reasons for users’ reluctance to accept DRM systems and should also be a concern for public authorities. After the adoption of the European Copyright Directive, the European Commission asked the Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN) to look into DRM issues, with priority to interoperability. A group with major stakeholders was set up and a report issued in September 2003 [10]. The report can hardly be described as a model source of practical recommendations as can be seen from the following sentence drawn from the conclusions:


The solution suggested is regular and informal discussions between all the stakeholders in order to hear the concerns of each party and progress in the debate, whilst examining the market evolution


The document is, however, useful to get a sentiment of how interoperability is seen by different market players. In the following some of the opinions expressed are reported assigning them to possible sources.


Rights holders

1.      The ability for content and rights usage rules to be supported, unambiguously interpreted and enforced across multiple proprietary DRM systems and end user devices.

2.      The portability decisions should rest with the content provider who should have the right to determine the range of devices and domains on which the content can be accessed. As the content provider makes choices in terms of his licensing models, then the marketplace (through the end-user) will reward or penalise accordingly.

3.      At present interoperability is not the primary barrier to the uptake of DRM. Interoperability must be guaranteed but market forces should resolve this issue at a later point via global, open, voluntary technologies. The development and proof of different business models is more of an issue.

4.      A certain level of interoperability is important to prevent the establishment of new gate keepers for content delivery.


Content managers:

1.      The ability to use datasets from different origins as though they were built to a common standard (e.g. for using metadata from different communities).



1.      It should be possible to have a consistent and predictable interface when accessing content from different suppliers in the same sector.

2.      There is a need to listen to what the end-user is saying and to study how the market is reacting to what it is being told because the future of the industry lies with its ability to reach its end-users. So far the lack of interoperability has been a major obstacle encountered by those who have used DRM in their solutions offered to end-users because of the confusion created by multiple choices, system complexity, novelty of dealing with possibly radically different systems and impossibility to move content and enjoy it on multiple platforms


1.      It should be possible to use the same software or hardware for content from different suppliers.

2.      It should be possible to purchase content that is not tied to a specific device, i.e. content that can be used across devices, such as to enjoy a song purchased via a cell phone on a PC or a car stereo etc.

3.      If the end-user cannot access/use/shift the content he has bought with the same usage rights then he will either prefer to get it through other more traditional or less legitimate distribution channels


7          Making DRM interoperable

There is growing awareness that an interoperable DRM is needed, but how near are we to have one? The answer is very simple: it’s being done by the Digital Media Project.


The basic DMP position is that digital technologies are an asset of mankind that should be used so that creators, intermediaries and end-users all benefit from. As stated in the DMP statutes [11]:


…DMP promotes the development, deployment, and use of digital media that safeguard the rights of creators to exploit their works, the wish of end-users to fully enjoy the benefits of digital media and the commercial interests of value-chain players to provide products and services.


The means to achieve this goal is to provide an open DRM specification, i.e. to achieve standardisation of appropriate protocols between value-chain users supporting the functions they perform. To remove any doubt about the goals DMP has provided a definition of DRM interoperability:


The technical ability of value-chain users to perform functions through interfaces and using protocols of open specification that can be independently implemented and provide predictable results.


Converting the general DMP objectives into a work plan that can be practically implemented is not simple. The first problem is that there is no such thing as a “universal DRM system” to develop a standard for simply because there is no such thing as a “universal way of doing business with media”. We can only think of a range of implementations of DRM systems that satisfy the needs of specific value-chain users.


The second problem is that digital technologies have forced changes on media value-chains and are likely to keep on doing so. Therefore it is impossible to standardise functions performed in existing value-chains as we do not know how today’s value-chains will evolve in the future. It is even more difficult to standardise functions that will be performed in future value-chains, as the shape they will take is anybody’s guess.


What it is possible to do, however, is to standardise protocols for functions at a more atomic level – that DMP calls primitive functions – which are executed between value-chain users. Examples of are offered by identification of content and devices, expression of rights to content, authentication of devices, access to content etc. Functions performed by value-chain users are obtained through combinations of primitive functions.


Standards are useful because they provide interoperability to users, but in developing a standard one must make sure that it will be possible to continuously inject innovation into the system. The ability to combine primitive functions to create new functions ensures that the system remains open both to the introduction of new primitive functions and new roles in the value-chain. The DMP approach ensures that new technologies can be developed and standardised to enable new functions to be performed in an interoperable fashion.


Currently DMP is developing a (series of) toolkit standards. These specify component technologies - that DMP calls tools – which support the implementation of interoperable primitive functions. User of the standards can build solutions suiting their requirements by picking the tools to support the functions of their interest.


The benefits of a toolkit standard are manifold. The first is that value-chains based on this kind of standards are interoperable still users can tailor the technologies to their needs, instead of being forced to implement a “one size fits all” type of standard. The second is reduced implementation cost because technologies can be obtained from multiple competing suppliers and re-used in multiple instances.


Toolkit standards have also disadvantages. The most relevant is probably that building value-chains may require considerable expertise. We will see later how DMP mitigates this problem.


8          The DMP results so far

In its 18 months of existence DMP has proceeded along the well-established standards organisations process of


1.      Identification of the target of its standard (primitive functions, in the case of DMP)

2.      Development of the corresponding requirements

3.      Publication of Calls for Proposals

4.      Review of submissions received

5.      Selection of the most promising technologies

6.      Integration of technologies

7.      Publication of the standard.


DMP has identified the users of a generic media value-chain, made a thorough analysis of the functions performed between them and derived a comprehensive list of primitive functions [12]. The table below lists some of the most relevant primitive functions organised by categories.


Table 1 – DMP Primitive Functions



Primitive Function


Content, License, Tool


Description, Identifier


Device, Tool, User


Author, Device, User, Work


Content Format, Content, Device, Device Capability, Domain, License, Tool, Use Context, User


Device Capability, Domain, Tool, Use Data


Content, Tool


Backup, Binarise XML, Bind, Copy, Encrypt, Export, Import, Move, Play, Restore, Render, Store


Content, Key, Metadata, Rights Expression, Tool, Use Data


Device, Domain


Data Integrity, Device Integrity


Requirements for primitive functions have been developed through a process that has seen the involvement of a range of industry representatives: collective management societies, consumer electronics manufacturers, end-users (particularly people with disabilities), public service broadcasters, sheet music publishers, telecommunication companies etc.


The table below is an example of how each primitive function is handled in [12]. In this case the primitive function is “Assign Descriptors”. The 3rd column indicates the source of the requirement.


Table 2 – Requirements for Assign Descriptors



The function performed by an Authority to assign a Descriptor to a Work, a Resource or a piece of Content



To facilitate search and find Works, Resources or pieces of  Content



·        To include the following mandatory fields

o       Author

o       Title

o       Genre of Authorship

o       Date of Creation of Work …



·        Assign Descriptors that facilitate cataloguing Content for B2B distribution



Easy and accurate retrieval of Works, Resources or pieces of  Content





DMP Ad hoc group that provided the entry



Collective Management Societies



Sheet Music Publishers


So far DMP has produced two Calls for Proposals. The first Call has been for “Portable Audio and Video (PAV) Devices” [13]. The Call was the result of focussing the general DMP requirements to the specific case of devices capable of playing governed content but without a network or broadcast access [14]. Governed content can reach the device only through another device (e.g. a PC) that has network connection.


9          The DMP specifications Phase I

In just six months DMP has been able to convert a large number of submissions covering all areas called for by the PAV Call into a set of six specifications (that DMP calls Approved Documents – AD). The table below gives the title of the six Approved Documents. In the table “Type” refers to the fact that a given AD must be implemented as specified in order to be able to interoperate with other implementations (normative) or used as a guide (informative).





Table 3 – DMP Approved Documents, Phase I







Use Cases








Interoperable DRM Platform




Value Chains




Registration Authorities








In the following a short overview of the content of the six ADs will be given.


9.1        Use Cases

This informative AD provides 7 Use Cases:


Use Case No. 1 – Open Release

Use Case No. 2 – Open Search

Use Case No. 3 – Home Distribution #1

Use Case No. 4 – Home Distribution #2

Use Case No. 5 – Internet Distribution

Use Case No. 6 – Smart Retailer

Use Case No. 7 – Personal Photography


These are examples of use of governed content that can be implemented with the DMP ADs. Each Use Case has a rationale and a walkthrough illustrating the steps implied by the Use Case. Open Release, Open Search, Internet Distribution and Personal Photography have already been summarily illustrated in chapter 4.


9.2        Architecture

This informative AD provides a high-level description of the technologies required to support digital media value-chains. It shows how governed content is generated, packaged, passed on and eventually consumed. The architecture is capable of supporting value-chains that are essentially digital extensions of today’s analogue value-chains, even though smart use of the standard technologies can be used to make media value-chains that are vastly different from today’s.


A brief description of the architecture is given below. Note that terms beginning with a capital letter have the meaning of the DMP Terminology [20].


The process starts at the moment a Work is generated by a Creator in the form of a Manifestation that needs to be Instantiated before it can become an Instance carried in a Resource.


For the purpose of Identifying intellectual property objects (i.e. Works, Manifestations and Instances) uniquely, Creators, Producers and Instantiators will typically resort to Registration Agencies generating Metadata. This was already the practice in the analogue world.


For the purpose of expressing the Rights and conditions to Use a Governed Content Item in a License there is a need for a language to Represent Rights Expressions so that a Device can interpret Rights without human intervention[3].


For the purpose of Representing the combination of different types of Resources, Metadata and Licenses as a single entity, DMP defines the DMP Content Information (DCI). Typically DCIs will also be uniquely Identified by Registration Agencies.


For the purpose of delivering Content from a User to another, DCI, including its referenced Resources, need to be Packaged. Phase I provides specifications for Tools to create a file using a file format that DMP calls DMP Content Format (DCF).

For the purpose of Accessing a Content Item with a License that is Bundled within the Content or just the License DMP standardises appropriate Protocols[4]. When these are invoked the establishment of a Trust relationship between Devices is required, which in turn requires the ability to Identify and Authenticate Devices or Domains, i.e. special groups of Devices.


For the purpose of Using a Governed Content Item for consumption, there is a need for the Device to Parse the DCF to obtain the License and, if the Resources are Encrypted, to Parse the License to obtain the Resource Decryption Keys.


9.3        Interoperable DRM Platform

This normative AD is called Interoperable DRM Platform (IDP). It provides specifications of basic standard technologies (Tools) that are required to build Value-Chains. The word Platform has been selected to indicate that interoperable applications sit on top of the collection of DRM Tools and use them as required. As this is the first version (Phase I), the Interoperable DRM Platform, it is currently called IDP-1.


In the table below (the same as Table 1) Tools for the primitive functions specified in IDP-1 are marked in bold.


Table 4 – IDP-1 primitive functions (in bold)



Primitive Function


Content, License, Tool


Description, Identifier


Device, Tool, User


Author, Device, User, Work


Content Format, Content, Device, Device Capability, Domain, License, Tool, Use Context, User


Device Capability, Domain, Tool, Use Data


Content (file), Tool


Backup, Binarise XML, Bind, Copy, Encrypt, Export, Import, Move, Play, Restore, Render, Store


Content, Key, Metadata, Rights Expression, Tool, Use Data


Device, Domain


Data Integrity, Device Integrity


The following table provides a summary description of each IDP-1 Tool:


Table 5 – Description of DMP Phase I Tools


Access Content

Protocol that is employed when the Content Item to be Accessed has the License Bundled within it

Access License

Protocol that is employed in order to Access a License for a Content Item that does not have the License Bundled within it

Authenticate Device

Protocols to Authenticate three classes of Device

1.      Devices having unique certificates

2.      Devices that are uniquely identified by data

3.      Devices without a unique data with certificate proxy

Identify Content

Identification according to the Uniform Resource Names (URN) scheme

Identify Device

Two kinds of Device Identification (comprising the Device Identifier’s format, generation scheme, generation protocol and exchange protocol):

1.      ‘Device info-based identification’ generated by a ‘Device Identification Server’ based on Device information

2.      ‘Certificate-based identification’ based on a X.509 certificate

Identify Domain

(Done by a Domain Manager in Manage Domain)

Identify License

Same as Identify Content

Manage Domain

Comprises Protocols to:

1.      Set up a Device Domain Context

2.      Control the Use of Content within the Domain.

3.      Manage Device Domain membership (join/leave)

Package Content

File format containing the DCI with some or all of its ancillary Resources, potentially in a single package, It uses a DMP-defined subset of the MPEG-21 File Format

Process: Binarise XML

Tool to Represent a DCI in binary form. It is based on the MPEG BiM technology

Process: Encrypt

Tools to Encrypt/Decrypt (128-bit Key AES in CBC and ECB modes) and RSA with a variable Key length

Process: Play

(No specification required)

Process: Store

(No specification required)

Represent Content

Tool to:

1.      Convey Identifiers of Content and Resources/Metadata

2.      Associate DMP-specific information and Metadata with Content and Resources/Metadata

3.      Associate information with Governed Content.

It uses a DMP-defined combination of subsets of MPEG-21

1.      Digital Item Declaration (DID)

2.      Digital Item Identification (DID)

3.      IPMP Components

Represent Key

Tool to Represent Keys. It uses the W3C’s name spaces dsig and xenc.

Represent Rights Expression

Tool to Represent Rights and Conditions associated with the Use of Content. It uses a subset of MPEG-21 Rights Expression Language


9.4        Value-Chains

This normative AD specifies how the informative Use Cases described in AD No. 1 can normatively be implemented using the Tools specified in AD No. 3.


By giving a normative value to this AD DMP does not imply that Use Cases of AD No. 1 can only be implemented as specified in this AD. With this AD DMP provides an example normative implementation so that Users assembling Tools as specified in this AD will be able to interoperate with other Users who will assemble the Tools in a similar way.


The steps in Value-Chain No. 1 Open Release can be implemented as follows







Resource Identifiers from Resource Registration Agency (R-Agency)


Metadata for all Resources


Metadata Identifiers from Metadata R-Agency


Human-readable license (H-license)


Machine-readable License (M-License) corresponding to H-license


License Identifiers from H-license and M-License R-Agency


DCI with Resources, Metadata, H-license and M-License


Content Identifier from Content R-Agency


DCF from DCI




Access and Use







The steps in Value-Chain No. 5 Internet Distribution can be implemented as follows:





MP3 and other Resources


Metadata for all Resources in each recording


Resource and Metadata Identifiers from R-Agency




Corresponding M-License


M-License in a License server


H-license and M-License Identifiers from R-Agency




DCI with Encrypted Resources, Metadata, H-license and M-License




DCF on web site

Access and Use







The steps in Value Chain No. 7 Personal Photography can be implemented as follows





Photos and Metadata


Resource and Metadata Identifiers from R-Agency




Corresponding M-License


M-License in the License server


H-license and M-License Identifiers from R-Agency




DCI with Encrypted Resources, Metadata and H-license




DCF to friend


Access and Use





New DCF with License Bundled within it


DCF to PAV Device




9.5        Registration Authorities

This normative AD collects roles, qualification requirements, appointment procedures and operation rules of DMP-appointed Registration Authorities oversee the task guaranteeing the Identity of Entities such as Content, Device and Domain.


For any type of Entity for which identification is required DMP appoints the “root” element (Registration Authority). Registration Authorities allocate namespaces and appoint Registration Agencies. Registration Agencies Assign Identifiers.

9.6        Terminology

This informative AD collects definitions of terms used in DMP ADs.


10     Beyond technical specifications

10.1    Reference software

DMP is in the process developing reference software for its Phase I specification. There are three main reasons for this development


1.      Put the text of the specification under test by verifying that the software implementation performs the functions that are expected

2.      Boost the use of DMP specifications because users find it easier to adopt the technology

3.      Provide tools for conformance testing (see below)


To the extent possible DMP will develop reference software with an open source license (OSS)

When this is not possible because there is Intellectual Property (IP) that is required for the implementation, the reference software has a license that allows modifications of the software and use in products with the condition that the software or its derivative conforms with DMP specification (MUSS).


The following table describes the type of license adopted for DMP reference software.


Table 10 – Licenses for DMP reference software


Source technology or specification

License of reference software

Technology is unencumbered by IP


Technology is encumbered by IP with a RAND license


Specification from another body provided with reference software

Existing license, if OSS- or MUSS-compatible

Specification from another body provided without reference software

OSS, if possible, otherwise MUSS




Open Source Software license



License to modify and use if implementation conforms to DMP specification


The DMP reference software for Phase I will be published in October 2005 as a normative Approved Document No. 7. It will contain reference software for all Tools also for some selected Value-Chains.

10.2    Conformance

Value-chains are the result of business agreements and are supported by a set of technologies that Value-Chain Users decide to adopt. As DMP specifications can be implemented by anybody Value-Chain Users can get solutions from multiple sources. However, not every implementer can be equally trusted, therefore Users must have the means to make sure that the other Users “play by the rules”, i.e. employ conforming products.


DMP will develop Recommended Practices for End-to-End Conformance to be published in January 2006 as Approved Document No. 8. When this will be achieved, Value-Chain Users will be able to reference the document in their business agreements.


11     Adapting to the new environment

For DMP DRM interoperability is a must but any DRM solution, even an interoperable one, has the potential to substantially alter the balance between users that existed in the analogue-world, in particular when the user is the end-user. If the imbalance is not remedied the scope of Traditional Rights and Usages (TRU) of media users, be they rights and exceptions sanctioned by law or “liberties” that users have taken with media, will be reduced. This reduction may lead to the outright rejection of DRM by some users, in particular end-users.


DMP does not claim that an established TRU necessarily implies a right of a user to a particular use of digital media or an exception or something else. DMP only observes that, if users have found a particular TRU advantageous in the analogue domain they are likely interested to continue exercising that use in the digital domain as well. This does not necessarily mean that such usage will be for “free” as the exercise of a TRU in the digital space may have substantially different implications. Leveraging on this interest may offer opportunities for new “Digital Media Business Models” that are attractive to users but also respectful of rights holders rights. Such Digital Media Business Models can then be extended to cover usages that were not possible or not even considered in the analogue age.


During 2004 a large number of TRUs have been collected and analysed [21] and an exercise has been carried out to study the effect of a range of scenarios of TRU support [22]. Finally in April 2005 a Call for Contributions on “Mapping of TTUs to the digital space [23] with an attached document “Issues in mapping TRUs to the digital space” [24] have been published.


The latter document contains an analysis of 14 (out of 88) TRUs:


Table 11 – TRUs analysed in the TRU Call for Proposals



TRU name




Make personal copy


Space shift content


Time shift content


Take playback device  


Choose playback device


Use content whose copyright has expired


Edit for personal use    


Apply a rating to a piece of content


Continued access


Freedom from monitoring


Access content in libraries


Make content creation device


Access content of one's choice


For each analysed TRU the following is provided


1.      Nature of TRU

2.      Digital support

3.      User roles and benefits


Let’s see the case of TRU #55 Access content in libraries:


Table 12 – Analysis of TRU #55 Access content in libraries



A user can draw a book from a public library at nominal or no cost and read it at will for a short, possibly renewable, period of time

Digital support


Scenario 1: Digital support of copyright exceptions for libraries

Repositories can “lend” Governed Content by using copy-controlled check-in/check-out mechanisms for the borrowed Contents Items


Scenario 2: Focussed on-line access to Content

A Repository offers the following services

1.      Content search services not driven by commercial criteria

2.      Pointers to content offered by other (possibly commercial) sources

3.      Governed Content when no other sources are available

4.      Content when copyright has expired (see TRU #7)

5.      Content when the repositories hold the copyright

User roles & benefits

Public Authorities:

Enact appropriate legislation to enhance the social role of public libraries in the digital media era


The latter document requests contributions addressing the following topics


1.      Comments on the methodology utilised for studying TRU support in the digital space

2.      Identification and description of new TRUs

3.      Comments on the choice of scenarios, the type of measures to support the scenarios and the effects on the main Value-Chain Users

4.      Identification and analysis of new scenarios of TRU support


DMP expects to receive contributions by 15 July 2005 so as to start the development of a “Recommended Action on Mapping of Traditional Rights and Usages to the Digital Space” to be published in January 2006 as Approved Document No. 9.


The process to technically support TRUs with the IDP is being discussed within DMP, and the following process is being considered:


1.      Selected a set of TRUs/scenarios

2.      Document each TRUs/scenarios as a Use Case in AD #1

3.      Develop add to AD #3 (IDP) the Tools needed to support the selected set of TRUs/scenarios

4.      Document in AD #4 (Value-Chains) how TRUs/scenarios are actually supported

5.      Add to AD #7 new software modules corresponding to new Tools or Value-Chains

6.      Develop AD #9 (Mapping of TRUs) by:

a.       Providing references to other ADs, viz: Use Cases, Tools, Reference Software etc.

b.      Identifying actions to recommend for legislative support

c.       Documenting results of legislative actions supporting specific TRUs/scenarios where known


The Recommended Action is expected to be of use to national legislative or regulatory bodies when defining the scope of TRUs in their jurisdictions.


12     Interoperable DRM Platform, Phase II

In January 2005 DMP issued a new Call for Proposals targeted to “Stationary Audio and Video (SAV) Devices”, i.e. Devices capable of Playing Governed Content obtained from a network or a broadcast channel.


In April 2005 submissions were received and working drafts of Approved Documents No. 1, 2 and 3 were produced. These drafts add new Tools to existing specifications according to the following philosophy:


1.      Re-use Phase I Tools, when these do a good job in the SAV case

2.      Extend Phase I Tools, when this is needed and can actually be done

3.      Add new (Phase II) Tools when 1. and 2. are not possible.


This is the list of Tools that are being considered for IDP-2 (Tools underlined are those extended from IDP-1, Tools in bold the new ones):





Primitive Function


Content, License, Tool


Description, Identifier


Device, Tool, User


Author, Device, User, Work


Content Format, Content, Device, Device Capability, Domain, License, Tool, Use Context, User


Device Capability, Domain, Tool, Use Data


Content (file), Content (stream), Tool


Backup, Binarise XML, Bind, Copy, Encrypt, Export, Import, Move, Play, Restore, Render, Store


Content, Key, Metadata, Rights Expression, Tool, Use Data


Device, Domain


Data Integrity, Device Integrity


The new specifications will enable Pay TV services that employ set top boxes that are service-provider agnostic and they can be used to implement Internet Protocol TV (IP TV) terminals capable of playing Governed Content.


Publication of Phase II specifications is planned for October 2005.


13     Conclusions

The epochal transition between analogue and digital media is happening with great pain and is far from completed. One approach that is being implemented is based on proprietary solutions of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies. This approach, favoured by incumbents, can be used to retain a high entry threshold and a tight control of distribution. Moreover, in most cases proprietary DRM solutions neglect Traditional Rights and Usages (TRU) of media users. Another approach advocates the adoption of radical solutions where content is basically free and creativity is repaid by other means, called Alternative Compensation Schemes (ACS).


The Digital Media Project (DMP), a not-for-profit organisation registered in Geneva in December 2003, has been working with the goal of providing specifications of interoperable DRM that accommodate TRUs. The first specification has been published in April 2005.


The paper illustrates the DMP approach to digital media and the advantages for all users of the media value-chains, including creators and end-users.


14     References

1.      WIPO Copyright Treaty, 20 December 1996,

2.      The Digital Media Manifesto,

3.      The Digital Media Project,

4.      Nicolò Machiavelli, The Prince,

5.      Creative Commons,

6.      William Fisher, An Alternative Compensation System, Chapter 6 of Promises to Keep: Technology, Law, and the Future of Entertainment.

7.      Chris Anderson, The Long Tail, Wired, October 2004

8.      The Moving Picture Experts Group,

9.      Berne Convention,

10.  CEN/ISSS, Digital Rights Management Final Report

11.  The Statutes of the Digital Media Project,

12.  Primitive functions and requirements,

13.  Call for Proposals on Portable Audio and Video Devices,

14.  Requirements for Portable Audio and Video Devices

15.  Digital Media Project; Approved Document No. 1 – Technical Reference: Use Cases; 2005/04,

16.  Digital Media Project; Approved Document No. 2 – Technical Reference: Architecture; 2005/04,

17.  Digital Media Project; Approved Document No. 3 – Technical Specification: Interoperable DRM Platform; 2005/04,

18.  Digital Media Project; Approved Document No. 4 – Technical Specification: Value-Chains; 2005/04,

19.  Digital Media Project; Approved Document No. 5 – Technical Reference: Registration Authorities; 2005/04,

20.  Digital Media Project; Approved Document No. 6 – Technical Reference: Terminology; 2005/04,

21.  Collection of TRU templates,

22.  TRU scenario analysis,

23.  Call for Contributions on “Mapping of Traditional Rights and Usages to the digital space”,

24.  Issues in Mapping of Traditional Rights and Usages to the digital space,


15     Acronyms

This is a collection of the most important acronyms used throughout this paper





Alternative Compensation Schemes


Approved Document


DMP Content Format


DMP Content Information


Digital Media Manifesto


Digital Media Project


Digital Rights Management


Interoperable DRM Platform


Intellectual Property


Internet Protocol


Intellectual Property Management and Protection


Moving Picture Experts Group


Modify and Use Source Software


Open Source Software


Rights Expression Language


Traditional Rights and Usages


Uniform Resource Names


eXtensible Markup Language




[1] Note the similarity of this case with Creative Commons [5].

[2] This case has been inspired by [6]

[3] A User can deliver Content to another User for free Use, such as when the Content has been put in the public domain, but DMP specification applies only to the case in which a User delivers Content to another User in the form of Governed Content.

[4] Note that the License of the Governed Content Item can be Bundled within the Governed Content or not Bundled within the Governed Content. in the latter case it must be obtained separately from the Content.