MPs launch DRM consultation

A UK inquiry into the implications of what has become 'a big issue for consumers' is underway

The All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) is taking a closer look at digital rights management (DRM).

The group, which aims to promote discussion between politicians and the new media industries, has launched an inquiry into the issues surrounding DRM, the results of which will form the basis of recommendations it will make to parliament on how to deal with the burgeoning technology.

APIG is taking on the issue because it believes it's "a big issue for consumers", according to a spokesman, and not just because of the attention it has received in the press. Recently DRM has made headlines due to security flaws in Sony's DRM technology and the ongoing debates between copyright owners and media pirates.

From now until 21 December APIG is asking anyone with an opinion on DRM and related issues — including companies, industry organisations, academics and individuals — to submit their concerns in writing.

An APIG spokesperson emphasised that all voices will be heard. "A 16-year-old's opinion on DRM is as welcome as Microsoft's," he told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com.

He added that the group is "sympathetic to commercial considerations" but will keep an open mind during the process as the aim is to come up with a balanced report that represents all viewpoints on the issue and that will help parliament in creating informed policies.

The written evidence will be assessed by an as-yet unnamed academic and certain respondents will be asked to give further oral evidence to MPs. All this will be included in a final report, which is due out "earlier rather than later" next year, according to the APIG spokesman.

APIG is particularly interested in the effects of DRM on copyright law, how it affects consumers and whether changes to current legislation are necessary.

Earlier this year, the EU investigated the implications of the spread of DRM because it believed the technology could threaten individuals' privacy.

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