IEEE P1817 Standard for Consumer-ownable Digital Personal Property
Private Goods for the Public Good
There are many ways to view the P1817 project,
but perhaps the best way is in the project's name.
P1817 will do something never before done
create digital equivalents of tangible personal property,
which we call Digital Personal Property.
Digital Rights Management (DRM) emulates unownable
(e.g., rental, subscription)
Consider how many businesses depend on producing and selling private goods,
how many consumers earn a living by working in those companies,
and how much of their income is spent buying private goods
tangible personal property.
The digital marketplace is simply incomplete
without a digital equivalent of private goods.
Every child learns early on what "mine" means.
To satisfy the expectations of consumers,
"mine" must imply the freedoms of personal ownership that consumers intuitively expect.
DRM systems deliver services
that inform, educate, and entertain us.
Service delivery involves digital objects that are delivered with the service,
but are not owned by the consumer.
The digital objects come with usage and sharing restrictions,
which are perfectly reasonable for a service
but are inconsistent with the consumer notion of product
It is not the presence of service restrictions
but the absence of any ownership alternative
that leads consumers to see DRM as intrusive,
and even unjust.
Plain, unprotected files provide consumers with almost all of the benefits of ownership.
Here are some things you can't do with plain files:
You can't give a plain file away so that the receiver can know
that it was an act of generosity,
involving a gain for the receive and a loss for the giver.
You can't share access to a plain file without potentially contributing to the
flooding of the market with unauthorized copies.
You can't resell a plain file; it has no monetary value because it is indistinguishable from a free copy.
The drawbacks of plain files are real,
and those drawbacks are nothing compared to the inconveniences of usage restrictions for buy-to-own products.
Consumers happily embrace plain files as the only alternative that feels consumer-owned.
Generic Private Goods
P1817 doesn't discriminate between a movie and a book.
It doesn't care what the product is, how it is used,
or with whom it is shared,
only that the product remain a singular item
not suppliers or machines,
make usage and sharing decisions.
The full value to society of the digital marketplace is only achieved
when that markeplace includes services, public goods, and private goods.