Amongst the Blair love-in at the Labour Party conference was an interesting debate stimulated by the British Library. Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library rightly raised the issue that digital right management (DRM) technology currently exceeds the requirements under current copyright law. “DRM is a technical device, but it’s being used in an all-embracing sense. It can’t be circumvented for disabled access or preservation, and the technology doesn’t expire (as traditional copyright does). In effect, it’s overriding exceptions to copyright law,” Brindley said to ZD Net.

At the moment, imposers of DRM can almost write the rules any which way they want. It is time that the DRM debate was opened up, especially as digital music sales seem to be flattening out, which, simply put, is down to the numerous and confusing limitations imposed by DRM across players and platforms. Until there is consistent and transparent system in place, there’s no chance of digital music moving into the middle lane of the mainstream.