The aim of “INDICARE” (The Informed Dialogue about Consumer Acceptability of DRM Solutions in Europe), a project funded by the European Commission within the framework of its eContent Programme, is to contribute - from the perspective of consumers and users - to the deliberation of open questions about “Digital Rights Management” (DRM).
DRM-Systems (DRMs), i.e. technical as well as organisational provisions to manage rights with respect to digital goods, are primarily applied to enable new business models for the distribution of digital goods (music, video, TV, games, text documents etc.) and to stop unauthorised use. In the current state of development and deployment, conflicts have cropped up among stakeholders. A pivotal question is on what conditions DRMs will become widely accepted by consumers for a broad range of digital products. Furthermore it is a moot question whether and on what conditions, small and medium sized content providers will employ DRMs for the exploitation of digital content.
The overall objectives of INDICARE, to be achieved by means of the Informed Dialogue, are: bringing the interests of European consumers and smaller users to bear, to reconcile the interests of all actors involved, and by this to support the development of a common European position with respect to hitherto contended questions.
To this end INDICARE provides a variety of means for information exchange and debate. Those interested to participate can do so at different levels of involvement: from posting every now and then contributions to the online-discussion to authoring original articles. It is even possible to get even more intensively involved in the publication process of the project. A prerequisite for the success of a dialogue project of this type is to continuously feed it with information relevant and stimulating for different target groups. Therefore investigations and original scientific research by the project partners are of great importance.
The most important project activities are as follows:
- A comprehensive and informative website on consumer and user aspects of DRM.
- An electronic discussion forum in order to exchange views, to disseminate information on recent developments, and to answer specific questions raised by participants.
- A monthly publication, the INDICARE Monitor, covering news stories, statements of opinion, hands on experiences, cases of best or worst practice, reviews, interviews, etc.
- Five workshops dealing with “Business Models and Rights Management”, “e-Payments for Digital Content”, “Consumer Perspective on DRM”, “Social Exclusion by DRM”, and “Human Factors of DRMs”.
- Comprehensive state of the art reports providing up-to-date information about legal, technological, economic, and social aspects of DRM developments.
- Consumer surveys in order to obtain reliable data about usage patterns and consumer behaviour with respect to digital goods, as well as about consumer preferences and the acceptability of DRM solutions.
- Publications for specifically targeted audiences, namely a “Consumer Guide”, a “Guide for Users”, and “Policy Papers”.
ITAS has generated the idea of the INDICARE project and coordinates the consortium carrying it out. The project partners are besides ITAS three well-known European research institutions.