Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

7/5/2006
09:59 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

What's With Mobile DRM?

Without widely accepted standards, mobile DRM faces compatibility, cost, and usage issues and may stifle cool content

Analysts say that the profusion of proprietary digital rights management software now out for wireless and mobile devices will result in myriad problems for the users of such gadgets and could stifle innovation on the content side.

The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) started to put together a standard specification for vendors and operators in the mobile world in 2004. Some in the industry, however, are unhappy about the licensing terms for the DRM standard. (See GSMA Wants Review of DRM Options.) This opened the gate for a slew of alternative DRM software offerings, argues Harry Wang, DRM analyst at Parks Associates.

"The main issue with mobile DRM is simply that there are too many of them already," says Wang. Industry efforts to push OMA DRM have been stalled, so proprietary ones blossomed in 2005 and early 2006.

"My concern is that without industry standards, proprietary DRM [vendors] will battle each other for marketshare. Those who exit the market will give headaches for consumers who purchased content protected by the losing DRM," Wang adds

Different specifications software means that content bought through one provider may not be transferable to another device, meaning MP3 or video files could be locked into a single phone. "DRM non-interoperability hasn't caused any consumer backlash yet, says Wang. "But in the future it will, as mobile phones become the third major source for consumers to get digital entertainment content, and they want mobile content on their PCs or CE devices, too."

Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group notes that this is already commonplace in the desktop world. "IPod only works with iTunes and visa versa, older devices don't work with new subscription services, and phones are a crap shoot with online music services -- some work many don't. The most popular service, iTunes, is the least compatible."

This kind of proprietary lockdown brings up many questions about who actually owns the downloaded music -- or other files -- on your mobile phone, and what is fair usage. "Will users accept paying for downloads they can only listen to on their devices?" asks analyst Jack Gold of Cold Associates. "This is the dilemma of 'owning the music' versus owning rights to the music on a single device. I don't think most users will accept 'phone only' music downloads."

Particularly, he and Enderle both note that it seems like users are being asked to pay a premium for cell-phone downloads and may even have to buy songs they already own again simply to play them on the phone.

"If the carriers are too restrictive or don't address the ownership and loss/recovery issues, users will not be very happy consumers of the services, and will likely opt for an independent music player that they can control," says Gold.

This may, in fact, be a better option, as Enderle says, it isn't managing content on a phone. "Managing the music on a limited device, lots of music combined with limited storage resources, and managing large files and play lists on a small device can be painful," he says. "Protected music may not come across to the device for a number of reasons, and you could be left searching for songs on the device that never made it there."

Timothy Lee at the public policy organization the Show-Me Institute says that the phone lockdown could have wider implications beyond the inability to hear your favorite tune.

"It stifles the creation of interesting new uses for mobile phones," says Lee. "If it were easier to install custom software on mobile phones, it's likely that people could come up with all sorts of new functionality… [Currently] you're stuck with whatever the cell phone company decides to give you. That has the advantage of simplicity, but I suspect we're missing out on some innovative software as a result."

Lee believes, however, that the operators' closed systems may help them to remain more secure than DRM on the desktop. "Mobile DRM schemes have the big advantage that cell phones tend to run on closed, proprietary networks, so even if you did manage to hack the DRM, there wouldn't be a whole lot you could do with the cracked content."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials. But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/6/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Another COVID-19 Side Effect: Rising Nation-State Cyber Activity
Stephen Ward, VP, ThreatConnect,  7/1/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-3931
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-08
Buffer overflow exists in Geovision Door Access Control device family, an unauthenticated remote attacker can execute arbitrary command.
CVE-2020-15600
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
An issue was discovered in CMSUno before 1.6.1. uno.php allows CSRF to change the admin password.
CVE-2020-15599
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
Victor CMS through 2019-02-28 allows XSS via the register.php user_firstname or user_lastname field.
CVE-2020-8916
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
A memory leak in Openthread's wpantund versions up to commit 0e5d1601febb869f583e944785e5685c6c747be7, when used in an environment where wpanctl is directly interfacing with the control driver (eg: debug environments) can allow an attacker to crash the service (DoS). We recommend updating, or to res...
CVE-2020-12821
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
Gossipsub 1.0 does not properly resist invalid message spam, such as an eclipse attack or a sybil attack.