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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2007, 10:47 GMT
Government backs digital lockdown
Zune music player, Getty
Portable music players are focusing attention on DRM

The government has rejected a call to ban the digital locks that limit what people can do with the software, music and movies they own.

A petition calling for the ban on the government's e-petition website gathered more than 1,400 backers.

In its response, the government said these digital locks, known as Digital Rights Management, helped give users "unprecedented choice".

But it added that DRM must respect the rights and needs of consumers.

Official review

In early December the anti-DRM e-petition was put on the part of the Downing Street website set up to let anyone create and gather signatures on an issue important to them.

It called on the government to ban DRM because it "locks users into using a particular service" and stopped them exercising their freedom to choose between competing products.

It acknowledged that there were costs involved in making digital content, such as downloadable music tracks, but it said this could be done in a way that gave a purchaser control over what they could do with this media.

The petition was created by Neil Holmes - a UK member of the Defective By Design anti-DRM campaigning group.

The text of the petition also cited a report from the All Parliamentary Internet Group, released in December 2006, which said steps had to be taken to ensure consumers knew what they could and could not do with digital content they bought.

In its response, the government said it had no plans to ban DRM and said companies should "be able to continue to protect their content in this way".

It said DRM acted as a policeman in that it protected digital content, but, it added, the technology also improved choice and the price consumers wished to pay.

However, the response noted, care had to be taken to ensure that DRM did not dent the needs and rights of consumers.

It also mentioned initiatives emerging from other reviews of copyright law that aimed to make it easier to complain when DRM technology over-stepped what the law allowed.

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