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News Release
March 20, 2003
CONTACT: David Fish
(202) 289-8928

Is Digital Rights Management
Consumer Friendly?

'Yes,' Writes Adkinson, Citing Greater Choices, Varied Prices

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Despite well-publicized and largely unfounded fears to the contrary, consumers of CDs, DVDs, games and other digital media products stand to benefit significantly from new and improving digital rights management technologies, according to The Progress & Freedom Foundation’s William F. Adkinson, Jr. In fact, he predicts consumers will remain firmly in the driver’s seat, steering the market in new directions of their choosing.

In an article published this week, “Looking Backward,” Adkinson urges fellow consumers to ignore “woefully misguided allegations” that DRM will result in “onerous controls,” and consider the opportunities. “The ‘control’ it provides is the ability to protect content and define the rights conveyed to the purchaser precisely and efficiently,” he writes. “It will enable providers to better meet diverse consumer preferences by offering a wider array of digital media products and permit companies to implement new business models.” Moreover, competition among entertainment providers “will ensure producers serve consumer interests.”

In contrast, proposals for government to specify ‘rights’ by “dictating bundles of services consumers must buy” will “deny them choices they want.” Adkinson warns that bills in Congress that would permit consumers to circumvent technological protections, including those by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Rick Boucher (D-VA), run the “even worse” risk of “undermining the efficient protection and marketing of digital goods.” The problem, he says, is that “devices enabling access for noninfringing uses may also enable access for infringing uses…fan[ing] the flames of piracy.”

Accusing some consumer advocates of “looking backward, focusing on old technologies that had lower quality and higher limits,” Adkinson says “The focus should be on how best to take advantage of the expanded opportunities to serve consumers in the digital age.” Technology is “already offering consumers enormous advances in the convenience and quality of a wide variety of media products,” he concludes. “But we can do much better using DRM and other tools to develop a vibrant marketplace in which digital content can flourish.”

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the impact of the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1993.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation