Paramount: DRM may not (at least right now) please consumers

Even Paramount has mixed feelings about the current state of digital rights management, or DRM.

ASPEN, Colo.--Paramount would seem like an entertainment company that's a huge fan of digital rights management: it sells copyright-protected movies through iTunes, it's a backer of HD DVD, and it sued 2600 Magazine over the posting of DVD-descrambling code.

But even Paramount has mixed feelings about the current state of digital rights management, or DRM.

"DRM is neither good nor bad," Alan Bell, Paramount Pictures' executive vice president and chief technology officer, said on Tuesday. "It's just a technology. It's good or bad in terms of how well does it work. If it's clunky and not interoperable, it's not ready yet, and that's where we are."

Bell said at the moment, it's not as straightforward for someone to buy a movie through a digital download service as it is to buy one at a video store--at least if he or she wants it to work on multiple computers and multiple video players.

"Interoperability (presents) an impediment to digital distribution," he said during remarks at the Progress and Freedom Foundation's Aspen Summit. "I'm pretty confident that in the end solutions will be found. It's just a question of how much heat and pressure we feel before we see the light."

About the author

Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.


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