Head of MPAA Calls for DRM That Allows for "Managed Copying"

EMI's decision to allow Apple to sell non-DRM versions of its catalog via Apple’s iTunes Music Store appears to be having a ripple effect in the music industry and—for the first time in several years—has elicited comments from the head of the movie industry association.

Speaking in his first public address on the topic of DRM since taking over the Motion Picture Association of America two years ago, Dan Glickman called on high-level leaders from the entertainment and technology industries to attend a summit "akin to a trade negotiation" to seek out common ground on digital rights management technology.

Glickman made these comments at a Digital Rights Management Conference sponsored by LexisNexis and Variety magazine, saying that "conversations need to go beyond ‘lawyers and engineers’ in order to alleviate problems with different DRM systems that don't interoperate or confuse consumers with their limitations." The full text of Glickman’s speech is available at the MPAA’s website.

While remaining committed to the use of digital rights management, Glickman says the goal of the MPAA member studios is to offer "a diverse, high-quality, hassle-free consumer experience." During his address, Glickman also for the first time made specific statements about DRM on behalf of all the MPAA's member studios. Glickman said his position came out of talks with studio chiefs and other top execs.

"Managed Copying" is the Goal
Most of Glickman’s comments focused specifically on allowing "managed copying"—the ability for consumers to move content from disc to PCs and portable devices—for high-definition DVDs, which he said he expects will happen later this year. But some of his comments make clear that some sort of "managed copying" is the goal for content delivered in any digital format, including online downloads and streams.

"We wholeheartedly support allowing consumers to make authorized copies of the content they purchase," Glickman said. "Next, we fully and wholly embrace interoperability. We believe that consumers who come by their content legally should be able to enjoy it on any device."

Stressing that the MPAA would like to see a DRM model that allows for "the legitimate consumer marketplace" but also provides support for anti-piracy measures, Glickman noted that the MPAA and its member studios also support "managed copying"—allowing consumers to move content from HD-DVDs to PC or portable devices. Current DRM standards for standard-definition DVDs, however, don’t enable copying, which means "managed copying" could take additional time, with HD-DVDs set to implement the standard by year’s end, with standard-definition DVDs following at some unspecified future time.

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