Hollywood should stop looking for technical fixes for digital rights management (DRM) and concentrating on making copy protection systems easy to use, according to a panel of experts.
In a discussion at the RSA Conference in San Francisco examining how the movie industry could deal with piracy, there was agreement that DRM systems would never work unless they were upgradeable and simple to use.
"Our biggest challenge is not to come up with DRM technologies but to pick the most efficient ones," said Andy Setos, president of technology at Fox Entertainment Group.
"This is measured by not getting in the way of the physical consumption of films. They must be reliable, not deny access routinely and not be too costly and cumbersome."
If DRM systems were too restrictive the result might be to drive more people into piracy, according to Carter Laren, senior security architect at Cryptography Research.
"Content protection systems need to have a lot of flexibility so that you do not lock down usage rules that are viewed as draconian in five to 10 years," he said.
"If you lock down a set of rules they will either be too lax or too strict. In the latter case that will drive people to piracy."
The panellists noted that there is no way to protect films absolutely from pirates, but that the job is to make it so difficult that only the most dedicated crackers could steal content.
However, opinions differed on whether the industry should concentrate on professional pirates or those who just shared content with friends.
"If a pirate sends out a million copies of a film or a million people share a film with a friend, the end result is the same," said Alan Bell, senior vice president of technology at Warner Brothers.
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