2006 Tech Prediction

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Everyone seems to be giving some tech predictions for 2006 on their blog. Here's mine:

The DRM opposition will start turning DRM against the music and film industry and embrace DRM to create a distributed file-sharing protocol and applications that implements "lending between friends" and ensures that within a group of users, only as many copies of digital works can be played concurrently as the number of original, legally acquired media that have been contributed into a pool. The protocol will ensure that the media integrity is preserved insofar that no two people can, say, play different songs from the same album concurrently unless there are enough copies of the same album in the pool. Media players supporting this protocol will eventually be clever enough to prioritize and shuffle playlists in a way that the fewest possible media are required in the pool. 

Since "lending" will later be found to be still too problematic from a legal standpoint, the physical media constituting the media pool will be put into a network of escrow services and acquiring a temporary DRM license to play a particular music album or video will automatically result in a "one-cent" sale transaction and transfer of ownership rights of the physical media for the period while the license is valid and therefore result in a legal digital copy of an legally owned media to be played.

In short: It'll remain interesting how the whole DRM situation develops. To me it seems consequential that the content consumer side will take a page out of the content provider side's book and use the same technology arsenal to try to achieve exactly opposite goals. I think there's a resonable chance that DRM will at least backfire for all digital media that's already published and out there. And that's quite a lot.

My stance on what's appropriate and inappropriate with respect to DRM is "undecided", even though I deplore Sony's rootkit DRM trickery. At the same time there must be a reasonable business model for entertainment media. Someone just has to find one that is sustainable and works. Luckily not my job.

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