I spoke last night at an entertaining meeting of the British Literary and Artistic Copyright Association. Tanya Aplin (Kings College, London), Florian Koempel (British Music Rights), Brigitte Lindner (Registered European Lawyer, Searle Court), Ted Shapiro (Vice President, Motion Pictures Association) and I all spoke about Technological Protection Measures (aka DRMs). You can probably guess that I was not too complimentary about the technology.
What I found interesting was that (a) a room full of copyright lawyers had very little idea of the very many technical problems with TPMs and (b) those that did were busy thinking up new crackpot schemes to "protect" their clients' 20th-century business models.
The current favourite seems to be that ISPs should be forced to monitor all exchanges of data and charge customers when a copyright work is spotted. When I asked how the spread of encryption could possibly be compatible with this scheme, they airily replied that only paedophiles use that technology and we would all be better off if it was banned. They obviously don't know that the US government already tried extremely hard to do this over about 25 years, and failed.
Given the ever-increasing focus on securing critical national infrastructures, anyone who hopes that governments will go down that road again is living in fantasy land. To think that companies are being charged several hundred pounds an hour for this type of advice…