When do you REALLY own e-books, other content? IEEE Digital Property Study Group to seek standards

A lawyer representing the RIAA and MPAA has already made his position clear---your DRMed purchases shouldn’t have to work forever.

Luckily not everyone feels that way, and in fact an engineer active in the IEEE has just forwarded to me a call for participation for a “Digital Personal Property Study Group.”

Ahead I’ll reproduce the notice from Paul Sweazey---which, yes, mentions DRM. What do you think, gang? And might you yourself participate? You can email Paul at the address in the notice.

Keep in mind that IEEE activities may reflect corporate influences, both open and hidden. Whatever the case, however, it’s good to know that some IEEE people care about these all-important issues.


This [is] a call for participation in a Digital Personal Property Study Group, sponsored by the IEEE Microprocessor Standards Committee.

A Study Group is the initial step in the process of developing a IEEE standard. A Study Group is open to all interested individuals.

The following is the mission of the study group:

Determine the feasibility of developing a standard for ownable digital personal property, under which sold digital products such as movies, music, books, and games can be clearly distinguished by consumers from rented or usage-restricted digital products by the absence of imposed usage restrictions or physical-product space and time limitations, while preserving business models based on the sale of private goods where the number of items in circulation equals the number sold and the number of users of each item is naturally, reasonably, and unavoidably limited.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to content protection systems that impose usage restrictions. Digital Personal Property (DPP) described above is the complement of DRM-protected products. DPP title ownership is transferred to the purchasing consumer, whereas DRM title ownership is retained by the supplier. Both preserve the viability of business models that provide customers with private goods, but while DRM-protected products are appropriate for rental and usage-restricted possession, Digital Personal Properties are appropriate for true ownership as the term is intuitively understood by consumers. DRM titles focus on the rights of the copyright holder; DPP titles focus on the rights of the consumer to use, share, and transfer ownership of his purchased property, with complete autonomy and privacy.

Digital Personal Property holds the promise of legitimizing DRM in the eyes of consumers by providing them the option to own, thereby turning DRM-protected rental and restricted-possession products into a reasonable, fair, and money-saving alternative to full ownership. With the option to own, rental is a bargain; without it, rental is tyranny.

A study group has a restricted lifespan of 6 months without additional action by the Sponsor. Its purpose is to gather the interested parties and prepare a Project Authorization Request (PAR) for Sponsor approval and submission to the new standards committee (NesCom) and the IEEE Standards Board (SASB) for approval before the actual work on developing a standard can begin.

Interested parties should respond to pms@ieee.org

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