MP: British Library must lead the charge on DRM

Derek Wyatt wants the British Library to play a major role in the DRM debate, a suggestion that may have surprised its chief executive
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Derek Wyatt MP has called on the British Library to lead the debate on digital rights management (DRM), and present the results to government.

The chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) said on Tuesday that the British Library was well positioned to organise copyright debate as it is an independent, trustworthy institution.

"The British Library and [chief executive] Lynne Brindley should take the lead in organising and running seminars on DRM and copyright, and bring the results to government," Wyatt told ZDNet UK.

"Where should the UK response come from? Who would be the most trusted group? I feel the British Library would be best. It is intellectually honest and the finest [library] in the world. No-one can own the library, as it is publicly funded," Wyatt added.

APIG consists of MPs from different parties. It has previously lobbied the UK government on various issues such as spam and reform of the Computer Misuse Act.

Last month APIG held an inquiry into DRM, during which the British Library suggested it could play the role of a trusted intermediary that would have the code required to unlock incompatible or obsolete DRM systems.

The British Library appeared to react with some surprise to Wyatt's suggestion that it should lead the debate around DRM, but said it may be willing to perform such a role.

"I shall have to discuss this further with Derek, but we're always willing to play a part," Brindley told ZDNet UK.

"We are well placed to act as an honest broker between different stakeholders," Brindley added.

Wyatt insisted that politicians were not able to deal with the issues around DRM by themselves.

"We need to find a home for the debate, as politicians we can't singularly deal with the issue of copyright and DRM. Copyright is changing because children don't care about it. Most DRM allows you to copy three times, but how can you police that? Get real."

Wyatt also warned that professional lobbyists could drown out other interested parties in the DRM debate: "The music industry will lobby frenetically, and we need to listen. But to get underneath the fundamental issue of what copyright is for, I want to protect the creator much better. The poor bloke who makes the CD often gets bugger all. I'm keen to change that."

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