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2/16/2006
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DRM Panel Criticized At GSM Confab

An independent consultant from the U.K. reminded the panel participants that the telecommunications industry is at least 15 times larger than the Hollywood content industry, but is still capitulating. His advice: tell the content providers to "just get stuffed."

BARCELONA, Spain — A 3GSM World Congress discussion on digital rights management (DRM) about protecting copyrighted content on mobile phones veered from friendly technical bickering to a blast of refreshing outrage when audience member David Birch called the panelists "a bunch of big girls" for buckling under to the demands of Hollywood studios and record companies.

In a rant that awoke all the participants in this end-of-the-day session, Birch of Consult Hyperion, a U.K.-based independent IT consultancy, reminded the panel of mobile operators, device-makers and standards developers that the telecommunications industry is at least 15 times larger than the Hollywood "content" industry. Yet, Hollywood is prevailing in its demands for embedded technologies designed to prevent illegal sharing of music and video by mobile phone users.

"Why are you such a bunch of big girls?" asked Birch. "Why don't you tell the content owners to just get stuffed?"

He continued unabated: "You're too seduced by the content industry, Hollywood is not even a $10 billion industry. Hollywood is small compared to the telecom industry. Why don't you take a stronger line? Consumers don't want DRM at all. You can't sell DRM."

The panelists, nonplussed by Birch's outburst, left it to Willms Buhse, vice chair of the Open Mobile Alliance to attempt a response. He said that the imbalance between Hollywood's size and its power was a matter of glamour, and its effect on public policymakers.

Citing the comments of an unnamed professor, Buhse said, "With any politicians who make laws, you're going to do much better with Christina Aguilera than you are with a handset."

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