What is the Role of DRM (digital rights management) in a Next Generation Internet?

For the past 20 years, European policy has favored strong DRM protocols built into digital products. but it remains controversial.

In describing a human-centered Internet, which to me suggests that the balance of power should shift more to the consumer, what should be the role of DRM moving forward? What should be the proper balance between creator and consumer?

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And if it is here to stay, how will it be ‘sold’ to the public? In this column, Cory Doctorow describes how DRM was falsely sold to the public years ago.

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.