DRM may harm open-source innovation

The digital rights management (DRM) provisions of the federal Attorney General's Department proposed copyright law changes in Australia could stifle open source innovation and increase litigation, according to a Sydney lawyer.

Open Source Law director Brendan Scott says while the open source community has made it clear that the DRM provisions are damaging to innovation and competition, as it stands, open source is "pretty much" a piracy-free environment.

"It is one in which small business is thriving [and] we didn't get there by asking for handouts from the government," Scott said. "We're there because we took our soundings and adapted to the new conditions."

Scott said the community encourages older industries to embrace the opportunities the future holds, rather than running to the government to help keep them "and the rest of us" in the past.

"Three hundred years of the old model of copyright exploitation gave us the bookstores in the CBD," he said. "Ten years of the new model of exploitation has given us orders of magnitude more content on the Internet. We should be looking to the future, not to the past."

Scott believes the DRM provisions have already created an environment of risk and that Australians are reluctant to engage in digital publishing because of it. For example, most Linux distributors are "so scared of being sued" they don't include DVD playing software.