Most of how DRM gets ‘sold’ to the public is by stressing the fact that digital copies of copyrighted material can be endlessly created as exact duplicates and how that is theft. We have heard it all, and of course that threat is real and endless copying can, and usually does, mean that artists/musicians/writers will make less money for their creations. I personally know musicians who have seen their incomes drop very far because of this.
But that is not what Doctorow is really talking about here. He is saying that digital content was also sold on a promise that it would create a variety of products tailored to the new needs of digital consumers. That has not happened and it seems that there are no plans to make it so.
European governments have been among the strongest state advocates and law makers that shore up this current DRM ‘system.’ If the EU/EC now wants a more ‘human-centered’ internet, will they support or suppress products that give consumers more, rather than less choice? Increasingly my impression of the NGI project is the EC wants real products to emerge and compete worldwide. I think there is an opportunity here, but they would have to drop the more heavy-handed approach they have so far taken.