[PLUG-TALK] IEEE P1817 "Consumer Ownable Digital Personal Property"

Keith Lofstrom keithl at kl-ic.com
Tue Mar 15 22:09:50 PDT 2011

Rather than going to PLUG A.T. (an interesting topic, Michael!)
I went to the Paul Sweazey's presentation about the IEEE P1817
draft standard for "Consumer Ownable Digital Personal Property".


Note, when an IEEE standard starts with "P", it is a proposed
standard, not voted on or approved.  A lot of proposed IEEE
standards don't go anywhere.  But a standard does help 
manufacturers design interoperable devices and software,
if the standard describes a useful market.  

This was the second public presentation outside the working 
group, so it was a little rough.  I haven't had time to digest
it.  It is not the kind of thing I would dream up.  But it is
an attempt to close the wide gap between the MPAA position
and the "we want to share" position of almost everyone else.

If you want to argue, read the information on the website first,
approximating what I heard tonight, because I am probably 
describing it inaccurately.

It is a very different kind of DRM, built into hypothetical
media players, with two buttons, "SHARE" and "TAKE", that work
with the content and repudiatable keys.  You can share content
with as many people as you want.  Anyone in the sharing group
can also repudiate that sharing with the "TAKE" button, perhaps
after buying the content from the previous owner.   The person
pushing the TAKE button now owns the only copy.  So, go ahead
and share it with 20 friends and each can share it with 20 more
friends, but if any one of them hits the TAKE button, you and
the rest of the sharing group loses it, until the TAKER shares
it again.  If you put it up on Youtube, then the company that
sold it can TAKE it.  Be careful who you share with.

Lots more details, of course.

The intent is to approximately recreate the experience of owning
a physical object and being able to share it with others - and
not share it with the careless.  A useful goal, weirdly done.

I can see about a zillion problems.  Still, it is an interesting
way to think about solutions to the current DRM insanity.

Personally, I see a different problem to solve.  Each year, about
two trillion personal hours are spent consuming TV, and billions
of more hours are spent semi-passively consuming other mass
entertainment.  I would rather see those trillions of hours 
spent on creation and human interaction.  The equivalent of 
creating thousands of wikipedias a year, and millions of smaller
but still important projects.  Getting off the couch and
rebuilding the world.  "Solutions" that make entertainment
more palatable may delay the solution to my problem.

However, Sweazey said that the standard, while requiring the 
keying and SHARE and TAKE functions, also explicitly requires
expandability, for example to not yet defined functions like
MIX and ANNOTATE.  So if I want to build an obscene sound track
for Disney's Snow White, I am free to do so, which others can
MIX on top of their own copies.  Interesting implications for

That is as I understood it.  Things are still handwavy right
now.  I would like to see what a bunch of creative hackers 
could do with a prototype system to surprise the P1817 folk.
I hope we all can learn from the result.


Keith Lofstrom          keithl at keithl.com         Voice (503)-520-1993
KLIC --- Keith Lofstrom Integrated Circuits --- "Your Ideas in Silicon"
Design Contracting in Bipolar and CMOS - Analog, Digital, and Scan ICs

More information about the PLUG-talk mailing list