Concepts and a Design for Fair Use and Privacy in DRM


Typical digital rights management (DRM) systems used for piracy protection in content distribution provide access to encrypted content only on the hardware identified in a digital license. This hardware locking restricts fair use, e.g., by preventing copying content for private use. Using hardware identity, media distributors can also link together all customer purchases, which can threaten customer privacy. The need to design DRM systems and electronic commerce business models that allow fair use is commonly agreed. But the intelligence and contextual factors that a judge uses in interpreting the legal limits of fair use in the US cannot be fully implemented in the licensing rules of DRM systems. However, approximating fair use by licensing would be well in line with the requirement of the EU copyright directive and would also serve customers in the US by reducing the need for costly human evaluation. We propose approaching this problem by a set of new design concepts bringing access to process context information to DRM license control systems. These concepts provide privacy by separating user and product identities and by enabling distribution history tracking. The fair use licensing proposed does not violate privacy although it maintains the advantages of hardware locking. It also enables new added value services for customers on back-up services and on re-sales of content products.

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