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Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Rights locks 'must be simplified'
A man watches the film Chicken Little via a download service for hotel guests
The locks restrict the transfer of songs or films between devices
An industry-wide standard on the copy controls for digital entertainment is needed to aid consumers, the trade body for 7,000 US music stores has said.

If a compatible system cannot be created, an alternative method must be adopted, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (Narm) added.

There are currently several different technologies which limit how CDs, DVDs and downloads can be transferred.

Record and film companies argue digital locks help to prevent illegal copying.

Files without copy protection, they argue, can be freely shared or traded over peer-to-peer networks.

However, there has been criticism from consumer groups such as the UK's National Consumer Council.

If consumers are discouraged by compatibility constraints and conflicts, we fear they will be less inclined to purchase more music and other digital entertainment content
National Association of Recording Merchandisers

Restrictions on the way music tracks or movies are switched from one device to another are "constraining the legitimate consumer use of digital content", the council claimed in January.

Narm called for a "meaningful dialogue" between retailers and the entertainment and technology industries to find "reasonable solutions that will ultimately benefit everyone involved, most importantly consumers".

Its statement went on: "If consumers are discouraged by compatibility constraints and conflicts, we fear they will be less inclined to purchase more music and other digital entertainment content, and may instead choose illegal options."

The legal digital marketplace would be "derailed" without an end to the "confusion, frustration and disillusion" caused by having several digital rights management - or DRM - systems, it warned.

Narm claimed that transactions in its members' shops accounted for 85% of the music sold in the US market.


SEE ALSO
Group battles for digital rights
28 Jul 06 |  Technology
US Yahoo offers copy-free music
21 Jul 06 |  Technology
Anti-piracy tool confuses users
04 Jul 06 |  Technology
Apple's core problem with France
24 Mar 06 |  Newsnight Home
Locking down our digital future
08 Feb 06 |  Technology

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