Imagining the Internet Project

  Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the2008 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Predictions Survey. Some respondents chose to identify themselves; many did not. We share some—not all—of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents who shared their identity are attributed only for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise.  



Scenario Three:
The Evolution of IP Law
and Copyright Protection


Prediction:Content control through copyright-protection technology dominates. In 2020, strict content controls are in place thanks to the efforts of legislatures, courts, the technology industry, and media companies. Those who use copyrighted materials are automatically billed by content owners, and Internet service providers automatically notify authorities when they identify clients who try to subvert this system. Protestors rarely prevail when they make claims that this interferes with free speech and stifles innovation.

Compiled reactions from the 1,196 respondents:
31% Mostly agreed
61% Mostly disagreed
8% Did not respond

Expert respondents' reactions (N=578):
31% Mostly agreed
60% Mostly disagreed
9% Did not respond

Overview of Respondents' Reactions
A number of predictors used the phrases "the horse is out of the barn" (implying the old paradigm of "intellectual property" is ineffective); "arms race" (implying that those who wish to access information without regard to law continue to find ways to circumvent IP-control attempts); and "continued co-existence" (denoting that in the future content owners will sometimes expect monetary payment, but will sometimes offer their content free or in exchange for attention or other action). The varied themes among the "mostly disagree" responses to this scenario include the following: Regulators will not arrive at universally-accepted policy, and people everywhere will continue to circumvent IP structures if regulatory guidelines are not enforced globally (several responded "it’s up to China"); "cracking" technology will stay ahead of IP-control technology; new economic models will be developed to deal with new realities of digital, online content; to gain a sizeable audience, most content will have to be offered for "free"; regulation will be layered, and concepts such as Creative Commons will prosper. Those who mostly agreed with the scenario said content will be privatized and kept under oligarchic control; control may be reasserted by currently entrenched institutions through the diffusion of closed (non-generative) devices (smartphones, TV, Netflix, etc.) and software funnel people through IP-controlled gateways to the Internet.

Below are select responses from survey participants who agreed to be identified with their statements. This is not the full extent of responses. To see more, read the report PDF, and to read reactions from anonymous participants responding to this question, please click here. 

Unfortunately, stricter DRM is probably in our future at a high cost to the industry. To counter this, most of our future entertainment will be derived from free sources with no DRM like YouTube and the future online channels for games and entertainment. The "old guard" will cling to out-of-date IP practices at the cost of their audience. –Gerard LaFond, founder and chief strategy officer, red TANGENT, and co-founder of Persuasive Games; works with leading brand companies such as Sony, Ubi Soft and Kraft

This scenario does not take into account the potential increase of alternative (and not necessarily legitimate) methods of accessing copyrighted material. For example, it ignores the potential increase of sophistication and ubiquity of cracking technologies as well as the potential number of social networking and virtual worlds, which could make monitoring the exchange of such copyrighted material much harder than implied. –Fadi Salem, research associate, Dubai School of Government; research focuses on e-government and development in the Middle East and North Africa

Totally agree. It takes time and money to do quality work. Creators need to make a living or they won't create. –Trisha Creekmore, interactive executive producer, Discovery Channel Interactive

The cost of implementing such a system across the Internet is astronomical not to mention getting cooperation and buy-in. Moreover, Internet tech-savvy users will quickly adapt and defeat such a system. Their goal will be to maintain the free flow of information and expression across the Internet. –Mack B. Rhoades Jr., Web services product manager, Michael Baker Corp

Kevin Kelley writes that the Internet is a giant copying machine. "Value" will reside in what is not easily copied. DRM is just an attempt to extend a dying paradigm. –Dick Davies, partner, Project Management and Control Inc.; past president of the Association of Information Technology Professionals

Governments will find a way to protect the entertainment industry through copyright protection as an important part of the economy. –Lawrence Swiader, chief information officer, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

A crisis in rights management for cumulative work will encourage all-you-can-eat licensing, combined with machine-readable code to control artists demand and attribution; sampling will be the base of redistribution the licensing fees. The key question will be to identify works that have been re-used in spite of their authors explicit refusal, and the contradiction between the approaches of two creators: can one prevent the other to use her work? –Bertil Hatt, researcher of Internet and social services, innovation valuation; employed by France Telecom and Orange (information technology and services industry) while completing Ph.D.

In an economy where creators of content can't be sure of compensation, creative work will diminish in quality and quantity. To avoid this, companies and lawmakers will work to protect creators through technology and law. –Robert H. Rich, strategic planning and evaluation, American Chemical Society

While a new legal-economic regime is highly desirable, it is highly improbable that real-world economic fear and greed would disrupt legal institutional inertia. –J.W. Huston, president of Huston Consultancy and futurist

Nothing in the still-short history of the Web suggests that copyright holders and old-school distributors will innovate faster than passionate consumers. The tide's already shifted. –Matt Gallivan, senior research analyst, National Public Radio

DRM will continue to develop, but the hackers will continue to keep pace and the casual attitude of most users will overcome centralized controls on most electronic intellectual property. –Jim Lucas, Web manager, CACI, a provider of national security, defense, and intelligence-related solutions in the interests of the United States

We are moving toward an open-access information society where most information will be easily and inexpensively available to endusers. I suspect that an alternative business model will be developed to compensate information producers based upon either advertising fees, royalties paid through subscriptions, equipment surcharges, or minimal user fees (or perhaps a combination of these compensation mechanisms). –Gary Kreps, chair of the department of communication, George Mason University; formerly founding chief of the health communication and informatics branch of the National Cancer Institute

With the rise and expansion of an open source or conditional use sector of IP creators, more direct artist-to-consumer relationships that cut out distributors and encourage payment as a element of community participation, and increased use of interactive massively-multiplayer-online-games-style experiential entertainment that cannot easily be copied, strict DRM controls will be found to be ineffective and easily subverted. An ASCAP fee set-up will be built into the price of electronics for legacy IP holders through an agreement between IP holders, government, and hardware manufacturers. The latter will gladly agree to increase sales and deflect lawsuits. –Ted M. Coopman, lecturer, San Jose State University

This will only happen if (where) external events—terrorism, etc.—lead national governments to adopt the kind of authoritarian/ fascist governance model necessary to establish/sustain absolute monopoly control over both media and telecom. After creeping up to that point for several years, the US will follow the usual decennial pattern and resume liberalization of access to network inputs c. 2014. –Tom Vest, IP network architect and consultant, RIPE NCC Science Group, office of the Chief Scientist; consultant for the Internet Society, and for OECD Economics and Statistics Division

IP regimes are likely to get more complex, rather than less. We'll continue to see fairly rapid circumvention of any DRM scheme by hackers, and a teeming P2P black market in digital files. Expect to see much more file sharing go into the “darknet” using encrypted, trusted social-network-based sharing. e.g. allpeers. –Anthony Townsend, research director for the Technology Horizons Program of the Institute for the Future, providing long-range forecasts on technology; he is also a co-founder of NYCwireless

DRM will be dead long before 2020, as will most of the current music- and film-producing companies unless they significantly change their business model. With every new technology, the entrenched companies claimed they were under major threat and something must be done to stop audio cassettes, VCRs, burnable CD's and DVD's, etc. Yet ironically, many of the new technologies actually provided *more* profit and *more* methods of distribution than before. The bottom line is that people will find a way to obtain the content they want at a price (even if it's zero) that they feel is reasonable. The companies who can figure out ways to monetize other aspects of their content will prevail. –Scott Brenner, technologist, Web developer, consultant for clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small non-profits

Two things will happen. Copyright protection technology will be only one of them. The other change will be new globally accepted copyright laws that will be significantly different from current copyright laws. On the one hand, these laws will partially comprehend the kinds of changes necessary to open up exchanges of information and to open channels of free expression. On the other hand, they will also have special clauses and enforcement procedures to protect large commercial interests, especially mass-media-and-entertainment corporations. These same laws will promote news-as-entertainment and stifle professional journalism and real news media. –Benjamin M. Ben-Baruch, senior market intelligence consultant and applied sociologist for Aquent, working at General Motors Corporation

Content controls assume that all relevant sources of content development can be monitored and kept in line. Even today, that is proving to be an impossible task. The Wikinomics of the marketplace will not abate, in my view, but accelerate. The technology industry and media companies will adapt to this reality, however “Minority Report”-style command and control tactics will not be their most successful strategy. Rather, sharing and collaboration will foster the emergence of newer models that will allow content owners, Internet service providers and others to develop and garner revenue from content in both traditional and new ways. –Barry K. Chudakov, principal, the Chudakov Company, a marketing and advertising strategies creative consultant

Digital rights will be so contested that the current rights systems will have crumbled—unless there is some better accommodation for use, reuse, and sharing. Micropayment schemes will fail because ownership will be so obscured as to make claims impossible to work out in a rational way. –Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; the original manager of SunSITE, one of the first Web sites in North America

This scenario does not take into account the potential increase of alternative (and not necessarily legitimate) methods of accessing copyrighted material. For example, it ignores the potential increase of sophistication and ubiquity of cracking technologies as well as the potential number of social networking and virtual worlds, which could make monitoring the exchange of such copyrighted material much harder than implied. –Fadi Salem, research associate, Dubai School of Government; research focuses on e-government and development in the Middle East and North Africa

2020 isn't likely to be very different than it is today with respect to IPR. –Anthony M. Rutkowski, co-founder of the Internet Society and a founding trustee; longtime leader in International Telecommunication Union; vice president for regulatory affairs, VeriSign

The current copyright system is bankrupt and cannot be re-invented or protected. The question, for me, is not how to re-engineer intellectual property. The challenge for the 21st century will be to set up a peer-to-peer distributed payment network in which artists can be paid directly. We have to question the techno-libertarian agenda, which preaches that the only way to get rid of copyright is to give away code or content for free. This is a bad proposition for artists. We can do better and invent a technical solution in which creative producers do get paid, but outside of the legalistic license structure. –Geert Lovink, professor and expert on culture, sociology and the Internet; based in Amsterdam; author of “Dark Fiber” and “Uncanny Networks”; responsible for the Institute of Network Cultures

The privatization of content, with oligopolistic corporate control seems likely. However, this will continue to hinder access for the poor, whether in the US or a third world. This is a critical element for the expansion or contraction of the current expansion of the world into “haves and have nots.” If education is the primary force for social mobility, as I believe, then this may be the most critical policy issue of at least the first half of this century. My preference is for a system providing everyone access to all information. However, that begs the question of how do the major contributors get a fair return for their effort. –Ed Lyell, professor of business and economics, Adams State College, Regis University, San Luis Valley Board of Educational Services; pioneer in issues regarding Internet and education

It's simply too easy to subvert content-control software, and there's little indication that this condition will change any time soon. Moreover, the trend at present is for content companies to move *away* from strict controls; while this could certainly change by 2020, my sense of things is that they'll tend to find that looser controls are better for them overall. ––Jamais Cascio, originator of Open the Future, also works with the Institute for the Future, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and Worldchanging
Once virtual private networks become ubiquitous, the only way of enforcing IP/DRM restrictions will be with draconian punishments, and I just don't think content producers are going to want to be associated with those. Fred Hapgood, technology author and consultant; freelance writer in technology and science; in the 1990s, he took on the role of moderator of the Nanosystems Interest Group at MIT

This battle of control and ultimate ownership over access to the "goods" has gone on for as long as forgery, fraud, and counterfeiting have existed. Middleman technologies will continue coming along to anonymize transactions that are illegal. ISPs will always exist that don't buy into the concept of content control. Walls will continue being built, and new paths around them or under them dug out. –Dian Schaffhauser, writer and editor for CampusTechnology.com, THEJournal.com, Redmond Magazine, Computerworld, and Web Worker Daily; founder of Sourcingmag.com

DRM will disappear by 2020. We could witness in 2007 how iTunes eliminated this option. It is a strategic decision to benefit from the global markets in a lucrative way. We need to admit that more copyright law implementation will limit the knowledge of those who can't afford it from the least-developed economies. That's why there is a need to find a balanced solution to guarantee the rights of publishers and the users. –Hanane Boujemi, ICT researcher for DiploFoundation, working on educating people about Internet policy and Internet governance, Malta

It's difficult to imagine technology becoming secure enough to make this scenario possible. Copyright enforcement has always relied on honesty and trust between producer and user, and that will remain the case. –Neil McIntosh, director of editorial development for guardian.co.uk, based in London; one of the first to report on the commercial possibilities of Weblogs; one of Britain’s first blogging journalists

Much as content owners insist on DRM, much more dire priorities have take precedence. Criminalizing copyright violations looks petty with so many other issues to deal with. –Cliff Figallo, social innovator and original member of the first online community – The WELL, now of AdaptLocal.org; expert in fitting and implementing social Web applications to groups

My response is based almost solely on my own experience, but I imagine that we will move to a subscription model for most popular digital content, and the issues described in this question will be mostly fought at the "premium" level of experience, like access to the newest 3-D holofilms. For 2-D A/V media, we'll all subscribe to a combination of XM, Rhapsody, subscription TV, and Netflix Online, where we pay a monthly fee for the content that we then use on any connected (and approved) device. There might be variations in service level and packages, and there will certainly be young people and reprobates who try to subvert the system. But on the whole, most of us will pay monthly. As an aside, most of what we receive by subscription will suck. –Peter Eckart, director of health information technology, Illinois Public Health Institute

I see the Creative Commons approach as gaining validity as stricter copyright laws turn people toward more open options. The economic incentive to use a copyright disappears when people find fungible sources that are more open. This leads to shorter copyright and more price-conscious pay options. –Thomas Vander Wal, principal and senior consultant, InfoCloud Solutions Inc.; coined the term folksonomy; expert on tagging, the social Web, and social information use and reuse

A vibrant hacking community races against the tech and media companies to provide free access to digital content. Their open-source, collaborative model allows them to compete with even the largest tech and media companies and pirating remains an issue. –DJ Strouse, international relations and computer science student, University of Southern California

This prediction is a horror prediction. Recent legislative initiatives in Sweden and the UK point in the opposite direction—to liberalize copyright protections. –Norbert Klein, member of ICANN’s GNSO Council and Internet Society leader who works with Open Institute Cambodia, a company whose primary focus is on information

Unfortunately, this scenario may become reality without the intervention of more forward-thinking and creative souls who can offer a completely revamped business model. For instance, there is no reason a music artist needs a record label anymore—they can hire their own lawyers, publicists, marketing firms, etc., and cut out the middleman. They can offer their music for a fee over the Internet, and encode it so that they always can trace downloads through technology. But that would be the end of the music industry as we know it. And that takes a lot more creative thinking to make it work. –Janie Graziani, manager of new media and technology for the American Automobile Association

Can I say maybe? The automatic billing seems interesting, but encryption of Internet traffic would defeat this pretty quickly. There will be a larger division between traditionally produced IP and IP produced in non-traditional ways/open source. –Ben Spigel, master’s student in the department of geography, Ohio State University; researches microgeographies of academic knowledge exchange

The public will always be cleverer than the content industry. Content owners won't rely on control but rather on providing additional reasons (persuasion, physical purchase trophies, better quality) to access content legally. Also there will always be places in the world where the idea of IP is less well established. –Jeremy Swinfen Green, Telecom Express, an interactive marketing company

And, this may set aback the open-source movement. –Hakikur Rahman, chairman, SchoolNet Foundation; coordinator of Sustainable Development Networking Programme in Bangladesh; active in Internet Society Board, South Asia Foundation

[I mostly agree,] However, open-source software, and shared material on a non-commercial basis (i.e. Creative Commons type) will be more widespread. –Julian Hopkins, social scientist and Ph.D. candidate at Monash University, Malaysia

The chaotic capabilities generated by constantly emerging new technologies will leave entertainment industries in a state of flux, constantly playing catch-up for many years. The ability to subvert the system will remain a step ahead of legal, technological, and industrial controls. Entertainment IPRs will not die but alternative revenue streams (such as music labels taking larger cuts of ticket sales and merchandising) will be the main focus of all parties wishing to profit from creative cultural productions, and the drive to enforce IPRs will be weakened. –Jade Miller, Ph.D. student Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, with a research focus on global flows of information and culture

In terms of the “policing” of the materials of media, legislation will have played the game of “catch-up.” Today (2007) it is relatively easy to deliberately or even mistakenly take on someone else’s material. Moreover in terms of “new technology” platforms and interfaces the “current” guidelines are out of date and difficult to apply to the new social media that is available on the Internet. The identification of “users” and “clients” for ownership will represent the next turning point for protection on the Internet, this will probably be linked to user ID such as ID cards as well. –Maz Hardey, social analyst, blogger, “defender of new media” completing a doctorate funded by the Economic Social Research Council in the UK, based at the University of York

Technically, it will be possible [to have regulation]. There will be a flourishing community situating themselves in countries that have less strict copyright laws/ enforcement supplying content that has been adapted to get round the hardware demands. (Or ways of hacking the hardware). If agencies want to enforce copyright, they're going to have to work out a better pricing model (and a way of enabling backup copies to be legitimately made and/or content to be passed on in the way it's currently possible to buy second-hand CDs etc. Emma Duke-Williams, lecturer in the School of Computing and researcher, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom; education blogger

I do not see either side winning or losing this battle—it’s just the current mix of open materials (with licenses like Creative Commons variants), fully protected DRM media, and people working around these in creative/illegal ways depending on one's perspective. Note that the world situation in 2020 will also depend very much on the dominant economic powers at that stage, and not necessarily on the current levels of influence, so the US influence may be slightly less than it is at present. –Micheál Ó Foghlú, Research Director, Telecommunications Software & Systems Group, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland advisory committee; member of W3C; blogger

I agree that through emerging technologies such as the semantic Web and the already present Web-services model, components of content and software will be serviced through gateways that may or may not charge a fee. However, unless there is a singular centralized system or set of gateways to deliver sets of content or services, there will effectively no difference between the scenario today and in 2020. The presence of open-source software and open copyright will be sustained as a parallel and possibly more effective system along with the protectionist parties. –Amit Kelkar, consultant and sociology researcher, Postmodern

This will only be true if there are also draconian anti-democracy features embedded into the network. Strict content control is censorship. It can only work if there is 100% censorship. –Robert J. Berger, CTO for Cinch; expert on backbone networks, access networks, wireless networks, and innovative Web applications, a frequent speaker on Next-Generation Networks

Much of this is the case NOW! [For instance:] "…strict content controls are in place thanks to the efforts of legislatures, courts, the technology industry and media companies." DMCA, DeCSS, AACS, HDMI-HDCP etc. "Those who use copyrighted materials are automatically billed by content owners" It's not automatic. But one-click ordering is nearly so. "…and Internet service providers automatically notify authorities when they identify clients who try to subvert this system." Check out the court case of Viacom suing YouTube. "Protestors rarely prevail when they make claims that this interferes with free speech and stifles innovation." See any of several DMCA court cases. Note my "Mostly Agree" response doesn't indicate endorsement. –Seth Finkelstein, anti-censorship activist and programmer, author of the Infothought blog and an EFF Pioneer Award winner

I have taught copyright at a law school and feel I have to be more "optimistic" than this. A portion of the content will be under "strict content controls" but a huge amount will be "user-generated" outside the content-control system—including some of the movies, sound recordings, books, magazines, photographs, paintings, et al. –Rollie Cole, director of technology policy, Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank headquartered in Indianapolis, IN

By 2020, DRM will have passed for the majority of cases, and the argument will have been won with the activists wondering what happened. The IP owners will continue to make more money than ever. –Sam Smith, Web interface developer, University of Manchester, UK

Simple DRM may serve to support some level of price discrimination if the user interface is not too awful, but strict enforcement of content control will be met with civil disobedience, as is true today. –Brough Turner, chief technology officer and co-founder of NMS Communications; oversees evolution of technology and product architectures

Whilst I do agree that copyright protection technology will play an ever-greater role, I do think that the efforts of big-name performers, public-service broadcasters, and even individuals creating user-generated content will ensure that content control measures will not “dominate” entirely. –Victoria Nash, Ph.D., Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom; formerly a research fellow at the Institute of Public Policy Research

I expect many versions of copyrights to exist out there, some very strict, like today's copyrighted materials, and some much more open, such as Creative Commons. –Yoram Kalman, a researcher and author of “Silence in Text-based Computer-Mediated Communication” based at the University of Haifa’s Center for the Study of the Information Society

Without some protection for the creators of intellectual property, innovation will suffer. –Don Heath, Internet pioneer; former president and CEO of the Internet Society; member of U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on International Communication and Information Policy

I expect to see some big changes in the industry business model that cope with the actual infringements through an optimization of the value equation. There is no need to pay $20 for a music CD, and the distribution will be dramatically improved by the usage of Internet-based technologies. –Sebastian Ricciardi, associate with Jauregui & Associates, a law firm in Buenos Aires; leader in the Argentina chapter of the Internet Society, formerly of ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee

Here in the US we have a long history that tells us that you can't force the majority of Americans to do something they don't want to do, with Prohibition and the current War on (Some) Drugs being the prime examples. It's quite clear that college kids have no sympathy for the RIAA's whines, and it's just a matter of time before DRM goes away. Besides, DRM flies in the face of the clear meaning of the copyright clause in the Constitution, which includes the key word “limited” to describe the length and scope of protection. –John Levine, founder of Taughannock Networks; a leader of the Internet Research Task Force’s Anti-Spam Research Group and the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail

I agree with this scenario more because I hope that this is what the future will bring, rather than a certainty that this will be so. The innovative process is not dependent on theft, nor is attribution an enemy of free speech. –Hinda Feige Greenberg, Ph.D., director of the information center for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, dedicated to improving healthcare for Americans

This is really more an issue of politics than technology. Copyright needs to evolve, but entrenched issues may stymie that. There are related constraints with issues such as micro-credits and authentication, but those are pretty straightforward, especially compared to the politics. –Greg Laudeman, utilization catalyst and facilitator, community technology specialist, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute

Legislatures—or sovereign states—will play a larger role in content control. The “protestors,” having grown increasingly sophisticated, will continue their    attempts to subvert this control. Some states will have attempted to regulate what has become a Balkanized Internet, and the free, cross-border exchange of intellectual content—whether of entertainment, informational or political purpose—will be less available. –C.R. Roberts, Internet journalist based in Vancouver

Hard work needs to be done each individual country and collaboratively to make this possible all over the globe. It is possible in many developed countries where use of the Internet is very common and e-governance is fully functional. For the countries that are still in the process to know more about the importance of Internet and only have heard the terms like e-governance, what I would like to suggest is that these countries organize high-level training programs for politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats, etc., the key persons of the country. If they could just invest two hours in this training course, then they can plan, decide in line with the Internet/Internet governance. What is happening now is so many projects are planned, decided, and implemented without taking the ICTs in mind. If the developing and underdeveloped nations make their leaders/administrators etc. aware about ICTs, then the year 2020 would see all the above things. –Sudip Aryal, president, Nepal Rural Information Technology Development Society

Research indicates that young people expect Internet content to be free and not encumbered by DRM. As young people become voters, wage earners, and business/government leaders innovative business models and changes in IP law will encourage open and free, rather than closed and monetized, content. –Michael Edson, director for Web and new media strategy, Smithsonian Institution

There will be (1) a black market analogous to the current DVD black market, but probably using non-physical content. (2) A group will create its own media world modeled on Linux openness that deliberately refuses to copyright their content. –Bruce Turner, director of planning services for a U.S. regional transportation commission; retired from U.S. military

While in 2020 copyright-protection technology will dominate, there will still be a thriving underground P2P scene. Also, I don't think an automatic “use-the-get-billed” model will flourish. –Aaron Schmidt, Walking Paper Consulting, a blogger who writes about libraries, technology, and usability

I agree with this scenario as far as it pertains to big companies. But more and more individuals will apply a Creative Commons sensibility to their creative and intellectual work, creating a robust, free sphere of new music, articles, documentaries, and other work. It will temper the efforts of larger enterprises. –Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, the Institute for Interactive Journalism; former business editor and a Pulitzer Prize winner for the Philadelphia Inquirer

Sticky ads and data mining to target effectively will make DRM enforcement meaningless. People will like that they only get ads that apply to them and their lifestyle and needs, and the ads will take care of the need to enforce DRM. –Garland T. McCoy, founder, Technology Policy Institute, a think tank focused on the economics of innovation; formerly senior vice president at the Progress and Freedom Foundation

Government will steer clear of this issue and leave it up to private governance. It would be one thing for one government to take this on, but the Internet is global and I don't expect global consensus on how to handle this. Private industries will invest heavily in technologies that protect their investment. This will provide a lot of room for emerging artists/vendors to develop alternatives. –Todd Wagner, health economist, Health Economics Resource Center, Palo Alto, part of the US Veterans Administration; also involved with the Center for Healthcare Evaluation

The collective concept by which society defines ownership of intellectual property is shifting as technology changes how this type of property is created and dispersed. As part of this shift, the definition of “stealing” intellectual property is also changing. These changes in both technology and societies definitions will change the ability of different commercial stakeholder to control access to that property. –Ramona Nelson, Ph.D., Slippery Rock University

Free trade notwithstanding, some protections will be guaranteed to protect intellectual capital. Alternatively, however, most content will be shared openly with no charge, except for selected categories like movies, some books, etc. –John Murphy, director USA.gov technologies, General Services Administration of the U.S. government

The digital-rights-management technology has not been shown to be particularly effective in preventing unauthorized sharing. The social shift in cultural norms required to move an entire population to see “sharing” of intellectual property as the same as sharing of physical property will take longer than the 12 years you are projecting. –Jill O'Neill, director of planning and communication, National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services; author of the Infotoday blog; based in the Philadelphia area

I doubt that the legislatures, courts, technology industry, and media companies will EVER agree on an automatic copyright system—although it sure would be nice. I also doubt that, even if they get a scheme in place, that ALL the producers would participate in. Look at CCC—it doesn't cover everything. There will always be companies that think they can control things better in-house. –Judith Siess, president of Information Bridges International Inc. and publisher and editor of the One-Person Library newsletter, author and blogger

Content will always be king and the content providers have to make money in order to continue to gather and produce quality content.  I don't know how we could avoid this. –Tiffany Shackelford, consultant who works with clients such as Phase 2 Technology, Stateline.org, Foneshow, WebbMedia, and Daily Me

Workarounds will make this control effort moot and new services and models will have been implanted, albeit sometimes in the margins of the law. Centralizers (governments, big corporations) will continue their pace but users will be invincible even if they have to break the law. –Alejandro Pisanty, director of computer services at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; active in leadership with Internet Society, ICANN, and the Internet Governance Forum

Content will be generally free, open-sourced, and available to all. –Tim Terpstra, co-founder of Teletekst Is Dood and cultural (media) entrepreneur, editor, researcher, developer for The Generator/TodaysArt Festival, the Hague, Netherlands

Hackers will always be smarter than content creators. Legislation of the Internet will be understood to be futile, resulting in more and more “walled gardens” of communities of practice. Those above ground will be heavily regulated as described above. Those underground will be “anything goes” with a brutality and creativity that we can only imagine today. –Kathryn Greenhill, emerging technologies specialist, Murdoch University

DRM is an arms race between standards creators and circumventors. I don't see this changing in the future. It's more likely that eventually the pro-DRM lobbies will be forced to develop different business models that don't lean so heavily on rights management for their profitability. –Dave Coustan, author of the Extraface blog and an independent consultant who formerly wrote EarthLink’s official blog, Earthling, and Stuffo, a sub-brand of HowStuffWorks.com

There is little doubt that this is the direction towards which we are going, but I wonder whether this would not create a reaction in the medium term that we cannot predict today. I wonder, for instance, whether musicians would not end up in relying more on live performances for their income, and so attach less value to their IP rights, changing some of the parameters of the equation. I do not think that this scenario has a high probability, but I would not exclude it. Therefore, I mostly agree (but with qualification). –Roberto Gaetano, ICANN board member; also responsible for SW development for International Atomic Energy Agency; an active participant in the ICANN policy making process

Since necessity is the father of invention, those who decide to break (or bend) whatever laws are enacted will figure out a way to both pirate information and do it anonymously. People will ALWAYS want...and figure out how to get something for nothing. –Dan Larson, president and CEO of PKD Foundation, a non-profit organization working for patient advocacy and education

The seemingly endless space reserved for virtually free discussion and sharing of information and entertainment on the Internet makes this an economic impossibility over time. It is more likely that technology will advance to the point where making illegal copies is prevented. –Bill Warren, vice president of government relations, Walt Disney World; founding editor of the Orlando Business Journal

There will be no way of controlling copyrighted content. Music and film business will focus on products that can be experienced and/or high quality physical objects, trying to surpass the downloadable media. –Tiago Casagrande, works with social communications and new technologies for verbeat

This will create the largest barrier to knowledge access for the poor; not the equipment. –Debbie Murray, associate director, health education through extension, University of Kentucky

By 2020 copyrights will be more open. They will allow people fair use of the materials in question. People will learn in the years leading up to 2020 how to work within a more open system and society. Government, courts, and industries will have to take the time leading to 2020 to learn to adapt to the nature of the Internet and how it has shaped the global market. Those who cannot adapt will fail at some point because the cost of fighting so many legal battles is not sustainable for them and will push their consumers away. –David Newberger, founder of Blackdot Ventures

The peer-to-peer file sharing is only part of a social change that is empowering. The transformation of who are trusted sources; the idea that “the crowd” can make a difference (see Barack Obama campaign for one) and the fact that Gen Z or whatever they are called at the moment will have grown up in a peer-to-peer empowered environment by 2020 will be (and is) the harbinger of social change that, when it comes to copyright control, will break down the traditional barriers that protect intellectual property. There is already a change trickling through the corporate world where companies like P&G and Samsung are willing (somewhat) to share their previously well protected IP with their customers or social networks that are useful to them (see Innocentive for example) because they see the value in it for business. As insane as the music industry has been in their overboard attempts to prosecute it, they will all come to accommodate digital and copy rights with deals that will loosen the IP/DRM protection but still be reasonable enough, given the social changes. No question, the property holders deserve something for their property, but the laws need to change because the peer-to-peer trust and communications/collaboration has changed the way institutions behave. The laws will be relaxed but still equitable for the propertyholder. –Paul Greenberg, president, The 56 Group LLC; BPT Parters LLC; MyCRMCareer.com, social-media companies

For another few years, I expect that the major content owners (i.e. labels, studios etc.) will manage to lobby for significant political support for DRM schemes, and will be able to enforce them, too.  However, by 2020 massive backlash by both consumers and content creators (i.e. artists) will have forced said content owners to settle for DRM-free methods of distribution. The market will reject DRM schemes, smaller players will have created and established business models that do not only tolerate sharing of their content but encourage it. These business models will thrive thanks to what today is often labeled as “piracy,” and they will embrace the social sharing habits that so many consumers seem to naturally adapt. –Peter Bihr, freelance consultant on Web strategies, communities, blogging and social media based in Berlin, Germany

There will probably be counter technologies that will weaken those mentioned efforts. –Erkan Saka, lecturer in media and communications systems at Istanbul Bilgi University

I do not see such drastic change from now regarding to this matter. Both camps will continue to fight and the level of piracy should remain high. It is an illusion to believe that technical means only will block the piracy and also because many technical resources are also being committed the break the protection technology. It may be possible that some content creators are using piracy like techniques as a tool of marketing. –João Miguel Rocha Filho, director, DataOne, a provider of software for connecting to Linux; based in Brazil

In this case we have a question of both sides being “right.” The arguments put forward on both sides have reasonable justification, which leads me to believe that 2020 will see the relatively peaceful coexistence of protected and unprotected content on the Web and in other situations. In a society of abundance such as we have now, there are many sources of funding the creation and dissemination of knowledge and artistic expression given away free-of-charge out of a sense of altruism or just for the hell of it. At the same time, fully-commercial activities (the “maximalists”) will continue to operate (as is just in an open, pluralistic society) collecting royalties. At present, I am studying the question of how to be sure that the Web is organized in such a way that users will find locators taking them to both commercial and non-commercial offerings of information/knowledge/artistic expression, where they can make use of that which is free, and decide on which of the commercially-available material is worth acquiring or obtaining through other means. For example, the first-world universities and school systems individually purchase subscriptions to services furnishing online access to thousands of scholarly journals, to be used by students and faculty. Here in the second or third worlds, governmental institutions at the national or regional levels do this and give access to academic institutions.  So even costly protected knowledge gets into the right hands (sometimes) without cost. Coexistence of the two systems is not only just but workable. –Fredric M. Litto, consultant for Pearson Education Global e-Learning, president, Brazil Distance Learning Association

The emergence of new ideas that happens when network linking is open will override the self-interest of those who would wall the gardens. Content in walled gardens will wither. –Judy Breck, blogger at GoldenSwamp.com – aimed at “watching the global golden age of learning emerge from the open Internet”

The problems currently found on the Internet regarding DRM will continue. In 2020 access to content outside the US via satellite and advanced networks will provide a “workaround” for those seeking to subvert the system. –Don Kasprzak, chief executive officer of Panaround.com, a Web-solutions design company; former system engineer at Apple Computer

I strongly agree that there are those who want to use copyright-protection to control content, but I do believe all the people using the Internet will stage an online rebellion that will knock these digital dictators flat. –Leonard Witt, associate professor in communication, Kennesaw State University, Georgia; research interest is citizen journalism and user-generated content; author of Weblog PJNet.org

As an artist, the protection of an artistic element is important. As the writer's strike now publicly exemplifies, digital rights are expanding, yet laws are not in place to protect the creators of the music and film contributors. –Janice Stevenor Dale, president, JSDA Inc., The Design University, interior design

I think DRM is a little bit similar to controlling in huge enterprises (business science): It is an idea of the last century and not really effective. Organizations in the digital world will sooner or later realize that it would be much better to state their point of view clearly and to show trust in people. –Oliver Quiring, Ph.D. Institute for Communication Science and Media Research, LMU, Munich, Germany

The combination of the technological tide plus competition between nations will gradually suppress copyright. Copyright will become a quaint legal oddity from the past. –Alexis Chontos, Webmaster, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh

I see this scenario happening, although at some point it will be unfortunate if fair use is left out of the picture. I hope publishers relax a bit, and let access to their materials be the focus. Copyright needs to be available for the author, rather than favoring the content owners/publishers, as it does today, and as your scenario projects it to be. As a librarian, I hope that fair use of copyrighted materials will be still be allowed and encouraged, even if through specific channels, methods, or locations. On the other hand, if a library is billed through a micropayment system each time a patron used a copyrighted material, it will (hopefully) be much cheaper than the current charges for site licenses on information databases and copyrighted material. –Teresa Hartman, associate professor and head of education, University of Nebraska Medical Center

I'm somewhat in the middle on this one. Artists need to be recognized and compensated for their efforts. Those who wantonly abuse copyright laws should be prosecuted. There does, however, need to be a middle ground allowing public access to such content. I don't see how the DRM movement stifles competition. If artists aren't rewarded for their work, why bother to compete? –Mike Samson, interactive media writer and producer

Alas I mostly have to agree as the large corporations who “produce” or at least distribute said content have the clout to force these things through the courts. However, we have a whole generation of users who've always used digital data in a free manner. Thus these new “adults” may, in the name of "creative freedom" possibly find another solution which will enable users, producers and new creatives to coexist in a manner that pays the bills and allows a certain amount of creative flexibility. The big problem of stifling new ideas which nearly always build upon old will otherwise cause mass court congestion, demand significant intrusion in privacy (which is being infringed upon in the name of nat. sec.) and cause large amounts of the population to gain a criminal record. –Robert Eller, Concept Omega, a media marketing and communication company

Large corporations that exert total control over large amounts of intellectual property will decline substantially. Independent content producers (artists, musicians, writers, etc) will take advantage of low-cost self-publishing opportunities and distribute their own content either as individuals or as small companies representing few artists. By avoiding major corporations they will reap a larger percentage of profits and will therefore rely on loyal fan bases that have been drawn to them by the wide distribution of unrestricted content. –Jamie Richard Wilson, journalist and freelance Web developer

As a practical matter, the copyright authoritarians will never be able to catch up to users of media. More likely than making the Internet a permanent sting for file-sharers is an arrangement where users pay a small flat fee as part of their ISP/mobile access bills that goes into a file-sharing fund, which compensates artists proportionally for those works that are being exchanged on P2P networks. –Jacob Kramer-Duffield, blogger and student, UNC School of Information and Library Science

Alternative scenario: some sort of Creative Commons-inspired copyright laws reformulation will occur, allowing for non-profitable (attribution only) content sharing. –Luis Santos, Universidade do Minho—Braga, Portugal

…Think like an engineer: solve the problem and enable growth. At Davos, I saw this contrast in approaches to the environment by Al Gore and the movement (who favor carbon taxes and prohibitions on behavior) and by the Google Foundation (which favors investment and invention to affect the market, reducing the cost of electricity to less than coal and solving environmental and economic problems together). In a post-scarcity media economy, you won't be able to make money anymore telling the public what it cannot do; you will make it only by helping them do what they want to do. We may well pay for content—witness iTunes. We may distribute it for free. We may give our attention to your advertising. We may give you valuable behavioral data. But you have to open up to enable us to do that. Otherwise, you give yourself a gigantic cost of marketing and customer support when everyone else around you is free. –Jeff Jarvis, top blogger at Buzzmachine.com; professor at City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism; contributor and consultant to the Guardian; advisor to start-ups

As a content creator, I like to get paid for my work. However, much of what I write, in the end, has always been pro bono, and the Internet has been a boon to writers disseminating their work. What I see, though, is that the increased corporatization of the Net is leading us in the direction of increased copyright protection, which is good for commercial materials, but which also threatens to subvert the areas of the net where noncommercial material proliferates. This is becoming obvious already on YouTube and will continue in this direction as big business figures out how to wring profit from the public spaces of the Internet. –Dennis Baron, professor of English and linguistics, University of Illinois, runs the Web of Language site and researches the technologies of communication

My expectation is that the “control” over copyrighted works that commercial entities, such as publishers the recording industry and video producers will diminish, not increase and that the move toward “free” access will expand. I don't think that the issue will be resolved or clear by 2020. It will still be messy and contentious, with lots of litigation still going on. –Timothy F. Richards, library director, University of Michigan-Dearborn

DRM's will die. They are a huge invasion of personal privacy. They don't allow format shifting among individuals who have legitimately paid for copyrighted material. They don't allow for fair/dealing or use. It becomes a nightmare for visually impaired. They make it impossible for libraries, museums and archives to preserve our heritage.  DRMs will be gone. –Robert Tiessen, head of access services, University of Calgary Library

Companies that fight a war against their customers only pave the way for their successors. Already services that offer legal downloads of DRM-free music are gaining favor over those that require DRM. In addition, there has been an explosion of not only new (non-centralized) distribution channels for music, but more importantly, the supply of music, as expenses for every factor of music creation have decreased. Just as BMI succeeded versus ASCAP with a “lower quality” of music, modern-day industry associations will not be able to stand against the self-organizing, self-spreading, self-popularizing mass of modern-day and future content creation. –Jay Neely, social strategist in the process of founding News Armada, a Boston-based company working to advance Internet-based news and commentary and community online

I think we are definitely moving in this direction and there is a lot of power behind this movement. That being said, the amount of user-generated content will likely make DRM less constricting than this scenario describes. More and more people are developing free content for the Internet and I think this trend will continue despite any types of DRM that may be in place. People have found their voice on the Internet, they have things to say and many are very willing to share their content without any compensation. A few of these content creators will have large audiences that will help to make legislation and DRM less powerful. –Ilima Kane, program manager, Klein Buendel Inc., a Colorado-based health-education firm

DRM is an arms race and while those on the side of command and control have been winning battles, they cannot win the war. Web 2.0 is all about participation and sharing. New monetization mechanisms will have to be developed to support cultural creative’s, as everyone—not just the “stars”—becomes a prospective producer of digital content. –Joe McCarthy, principal instigator, MyStrands; formerly principal scientist at Nokia Research Center Palo Alto; he also has worked at Intel Research, Accenture Technology Labs, and Nokia

I hope by 2020 media has figured out that currently copyrighted content, especially audio and video files, are consumables and should be given away free in order to attract viewers to participate—i.e., actually go to the concert for a more complete experience. We're already seeing the beginning of the end for DRM—3-4 major music-publishing companies have recently dropped DRM. More are sure to follow. –David Lee King, digital branch and services manager for the Topeka and Shawnee County (KS) Public Library

Any sort of DRM system depends heavily on the user community's general agreement as to the value of the content. The UGC trend and increasing value and use of “amateur” content could partially or completely undermine any DRM system. The real differentiation will come with a yet-to-evolve level of credible arbiters who can help identify, and establish the value of, content worth purchasing or renting. –Bob May, founder and chief creative officer, Lucid Media, a Georgia-based company that provides Internet content as a driver in consumer branding

DRM is being challenged already as consumers protest the restrictive nature of its set up. Consumers will limit the efforts to expand DRM.  –Naomi L. Lacy, assistant professor, research division, University of Nebraska Medical Center

I hope that DRM, as we know it, fails. I think that the media corporations will need to adapt and adopt. They will need to adapt to meet consumer demands and adopt new policies and perhaps even a new media standard. File-sharing and copying will always be with us. I think the media companies wish we would never have progressed beyond the days of vinyl records. The freedom of creativity will prevail over the restrictions of greedy corporations. –Mark Fennell, senior Web engineer, Athens Regional Medical Center, Athens, GA

I listened to Lawrence Lessig on TedTalks this week talk about what has ALREADY happened with the sharing of digital information. Already, artists and content producers easily circumvent any laws. Like the record industry with CDs, owners of content will need to innovate and find a way to share appropriately or prepare to close up shop. Also, the marketplace is now global and if one country, such as the US, attempts to increase restrictions, content will simply be published online through Chinese unregulated means. –Theresa Maddix, satisfaction research analyst, ForeSee Results

As technology permits society to become more Orwellian in its control and use of information, I believe this will unfortunately come to pass. And as it does, the privacy of information users will also diminish accordingly.  –Lisa Carr, director of strategy, Targetbase Interactive, healthcare strategist and writer

I agree that, as this issue evolves, the lawyers and other copyright holders will prevail—to the detriment of promoting and spreading their brand. A better alternative would be to allow for use, as long as users are not earning money from others' work/talent, and that users are not defaming content providers. –Mike Driehorst, messaging strategist; leads social media for Hanson Inc., an interactive communications and video production company in Ohio

I hate the thought of everything being copyrighted, but money talks in government. I believe the media companies and others will push (pay) to get this kind of control in place. –Susan Frede, vice president for research and panel management, TNS, a global market research company

Copyright owners will realize the promotional ability of people using their work. A whole new type of licensing will be developed where items can be used, if copyright holder gets a % of ownership of the work. –Chris Myers, Webmaster at the University of Michigan

Policing these rules would be nearly impossible. –Don Ranly, Ph.D., professor emeritus, University of Missouri School of Journalism

By 2020 a new tech-savvy generation of executives will be running content companies. They will have learned from past examples such as what's going on in today's music business. There has to be a balance between reasonable content protection, and ultimately making the content easy for customers to consume and share. –Brian T. Nakamoto, co-founder of MrJoy Inc. and product-line manager for Everyone.net, (a leading provider of outsourced e-mail solutions for individuals and companies around the world)

Content controls will solidify their grip on mainstream content, but with significant caveats. It seems unlikely that large organizations like studios will regain the profits or clout they had in the past. And as DRM gets tighter, creators favoring DRM-free distribution models will also become more mainstream. The two worlds—DRM and DRM-free, studio and indie—will continue to coexist, but the former's clout will ebb, and the latter's will rise. –Ivor Tossell, technology columnist/journalist for the Toronto Globe and Mail, known as “the blogging journalist” and a social observer

Advocates of Freedom of Information and privacy hopefully will fight against strict content control. We count more on self-regulation instruments than on control by legislation. –Jutta Croll, managing director, Stiftung Digitale Chancen – Digital Opportunities Foundation, Berlin, Germany, promoting and supporting access and equal opportunities for all online

Property rights in information will be transient, and service-based revenue models will predominate. –Ed Steinmueller, professor, science and technology policy research, University of Sussex; researches industrial structure of high technology industries, co-evolution of technology

International legal agreements across many nations are protracted and complex affairs. The trend if anything is toward freer exchanges and less regulatory control between countries. –Tim Grafton, market research director for UMR Research Ltd., a market research company based in New Zealand

The media industry will eventually have to rethink copyright as the sole method of protecting and extracting value from content.  Value-added options (such as higher sound quality in audio) may be a part of that equation. Other options such as tagging of content as a way of identifying the originating source will also play a role during the transition and after. –Jasmine Sante, Sante Strategies, independent Web strategy consultant in the Washington, D.C., area

This is possible only if we make microtransactions commonplace online and through cells—microtaxation goes with this as well. –Jennifer Jarratt, principal, Leading Futurists LLC; works with formalized methodologies to assess and interpret potential futures

Reality and hope are two different things. In reality, for the bulk of the world there will be legally mandated controls for the content “owned” which will extend everywhere the courts and tracking can reach, for the content. However, users will be able to create their own content, and some platforms will allow/encourage this “free” content to flourish on their delivery systems. The money will flow, then, from related advertising revenues and search (and other future revenue generating avenues to be developed). Like the speedy line at the airport screening, money will = convenience; free = inconvenient but adequate. –Nikki Waters, product manager, Internet Services Group, Kaiser Permanente (medical HMO)

In 2020, DRM remains opposed only by a few. Libraries and academics remain marginal in policy discussions. Fair use has morphed into a focus on DIY content (examples from 2008: Creative Commons-licensed content, FreeSound). –Bryan Alexander, director of research National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, blogger, expert on computer-mediated pedagogy, Ripton, Vermont

This would make “Big Brother” a reality! I can see a person inadvertently using documents & then receiving a huge bill for the copyrights. –Jana Vanderslice, counselor and technoethics researcher

Although it is still unclear which business model will support the further development of the Internet, one of the drivers will be the extended role of DRM and IP. This will be especially true for specific areas of content. Others may be more of the “open source” and free space. –Wim van de Donk, professor of public administration and chairman of the Scientific Council for Government Policy in The Netherlands (WRR)

I think this unfortunate trend will lead to a much larger pay-for-use segment of the Internet; free sites will be rarer and users will be charged low rates for just visiting a site. Charges will be by stealth; maybe there will be a usage bill at the end of the month that is automatically deducted from a person's account. –Ruth Martin, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

Information wants to be free. Copyright holders will continue to battle with bloggers and file sharers who wish to expand freedom to access information & knowledge via the Internet.  I believe copyright will still exist & be honored in 2020, but new types of commerce & new commercial models will develop that will enable copyright holders to make money, while users will gain freer access to music & other forms of entertainment. –Richard Silverstein, blogger specializing in the US and Mideast politics

It's proven difficult to actually “control” anything on the Internet. As an occasional creator of content, I recognize the importance of providing due compensation to copyright holders. I'm just not optimistic that whatever successes we have in setting up a system that deals fairly with content owners as well as buyers who wish to use that content for personal use (not for profit), that piracy and other as-yet-unidentified forms of abuse won't still exist and continue to be termed a major problem. –Jim Wiljanen, president, Evans/Greenwood LLC, MI

This may be more hopeful than predictive—but just as Internet “filters” for adult content are easily circumvented by those who are supposed to benefit from them, and get in the way more often than they help, relying on DRM to enforce intellectual property is a flawed approach from both a technology and a legal perspective. Ultimately large content owners and producers will be forced to recognize that the “digital restrictions” approach to copyright and IP management—relying on technology to enforce legal standards—is costly, futile, and misguided. –John Eckman, practice director, Next Generation Internet, Optaros Inc., a professional services firm offering strategy, design, development and consulting services tied to open source software

This will probably be pretty true in the OECD countries, but I cannot see it happening in most developing countries by then. –Joseph Straubhaar, professor, University of Texas-Austin; research interests include international communication and cultural theory and information sciences and the digital divide

Probably. Inevitably. Sucks. Although I think artists/content owners should get something, the whole thing just reeks of red tape and greed. –Virginia Bisek, Web content developer and writer

Copyright-protection will diminish rather than increase as grassroots organizations and individuals increasingly mobilize to resist and even undermine the efforts of commercial interests to “protect their assets.” If big business continues to place restrictions on their content, folks will move increasingly to those arenas where “user-generated” content is being created and freely distributed, using such means as provided by the Creative Commons licenses to get around copyright restrictions. DRM will not likely be going away, but I don't think it will have the stranglehold on content that is being predicted here. –Kerry Anderson, library consultant for the government of Alberta, Canada

The DRM/IP battle will be fought long into the 21st century, if not beyond. Digital content is too hard to police, and the alternatives are going to be too restrictive to implement. Incremental cooperation and implementation will be the scenario, but “automatic notification” to authorities isn't right around the corner. –Woody Degan, chief executive officer and operations director, Memphis Sound Entertainment; Consumer First Consulting, IT Consulting

I hope that copyright evolves to a more open format—and that artists, not middlemen, reap the fruits of their labor. But, copyright needs to evolve to Creative Commons. –Beth Gallaway, Information Goddess Consulting, a Web 2.0 consultancy

There will be a revolution of sorts before we get to better copyright controls. As the general population becomes dissatisfied with having to purchase content multiple times to use on different devices this will push a new form of copyright management around usage. It should not matter if I want to access content on an iPod, computer, TV, etc. This would bring down the per usage cost but could provide more revenue for the music and film business as like a needle drop its per usage. This also makes it easier for the digital public to not buy formats multiple times (DVD, CD, Digital file, etc.) Or perhaps better explained by how if you buy it on LP, 8 track, again on cassette, and CD, and then pay again for digital the producer will face a backlash as consumers are tired of paying for the same content on a new form of media. –Chris Miller, senior vice president, digital operations and new business for Element 79, an advertising agency

Corporations and copyright holders have too much to lose; they'll do their utmost to protect their property. –Lynn Blumenstein, senior editor, Library Hotline, Reed Business Information

DRM and other forms of copyright-protection technologies will fail in the short and long term. The open-source concept will be the victor. ––Daniel Fisher, lecturer
I think the current trend is toward less, rather than more, strictures with regard to DRM.  This of course will be predicated on individuals and companies being able to obtain an income from their work. –Steven Hausman, president, HausmanTech Consulting

I think content ownership will be difficult to define given the current (2008) trend of user-generated contents. By 2020, the majority of content producers will not be the music and film business of 2007; rather, they will be from Gen Y-ers, Gen C-ers, etc. –Philip Lu, vice president and manager of research analysis, Wells Fargo Bank Internet Services Group; formerly a senior analyst at Gartner and a senior manager at Schwab

There has to be effective methods for protecting intellectual property rights; however, those who attempt to maintain high historical rates based on expensive means of distribution will be marginalized as the public finds reasonably priced alternatives. –David F. Salisbury, associate director for science and research communications, Vanderbilt University; formerly science and technology reporter for The Christian Science Monitor

In 2020, copyright-protection will continue to be an issue and clients will continue to find ways to subvert the system. –Christopher Brown, strategist and managing editor of new media for the U.S. television program “America’s Most Wanted” on FOX 

The largest barrier to this scenario that I see is the ability of the different stakeholders to agree on standards that work across different platforms. –Gretchen Pruett, assistant director, Georgetown Public Library

This is without a doubt the direction we are heading in. However the great strength of cross-cultural and transnational grassroots opposition from young consumers and young media producers convinces me that as this generation moves into positions of power there will be an end to this direction of progress and perhaps indeed a liberalizing backlash. This should be the case by 2020. –Francis J.L. Osborn, futurist and activist, philosophy department, University of Wales Lampeter (formerly St. David’s University College)

Quite the opposite occurs—in a wiki world, public authorship dominates and only skilled content producers will be able to charge for their copyright title. Conversely, voluntary payment usage fees or donations will become the cultural norm—somewhat like tipping in the hospitality business. –Cambria Ravenhill, manager of national channel planning at TELUS Communications, IT sales executive with expertise in the IT hardware, telecom and wireless space

The more companies try to control content, the less control they will have. The more control they are willing to give up, the more they will be able to accomplish what they need. –Jonathan Dube, president of Online News Association, director of digital media at CBC News, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, publisher of CyberJournalist.net

Whilst the embedding of information in digital files will grow, so that authors can be attributed, the actual content itself will continue to increase exponentially. This increase in content will lead to much more diverse consumption habits, with consumers increasingly choosing homemade content over that “officially” provided, and attempts to enforce projection of an increasingly shrinking market share will only serve to make that market share disappear even faster.–Richard Osborne, Web manager for the School of Education & Lifelong Learning, University of Exeter; research focus is e-learning

T
here are strong moves towards this outcome now. It only makes sense that intellectual property rights will be maintained by technology, particularly when the status quo is inadequate. –Richard Fowler, auditor specialist, Northrop Grumman

I am not really sure how this will play out especially since the whole “net neutrality” thing is still up in the air and undecided.  But I do think it will be very difficult to copyright everything.  There will always be hackers to circumvent the “rules.” –Rachel Kachur, behavioral researcher, U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

DRM is proven, by 2020, to protect the corporations at the expense of the creators. The creators of intellectual property will reach a synergy with the users of said property and will gain their protection through a true supply/demand, one to one relationship with their consumers. Legislators and the courts will be largely excluded from the operation of a free, global, network. –Eric Kreider, director of Web services, the University of Akron (Ohio), US

Regarding innovation, fledgling authors and artists might thrive, if warranted, as they make some money on their work. I trust the 2020 scenario enables those who create the materials that are automatically copyrighted, to allow those materials to be shared without billing. –Thomas Lenzo, business and technology consultant, Thomas Lenzo Consulting

I am with the “protestors who rarely prevail” on this: there will be even less so-called freedom for anyone without the capital to control resources, and certainly freedom of speech will be severely restricted as well. –Alex Don, linguist and educator

The overall trend in all aspects of life is increasing government control and regulation. This will be no exception. –John Sewart, professor at College of San Mateo

The Creative Commons model is a beautiful one where the creators can find more of a middle ground for sharing or charging for their work. I also hope for a model where people are supporting for their creations. I hope we can come to a place where people who create content are paid for their work and people who enjoy work will be happy to pay and support work. If everyone can get behind a micropayment model to encourage and support quality, everyone wins. –Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby Awards, co-founder of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences; named one of Newsweek’s “Women Shaping the 21st Century”

How depressing! Unfortunately this looks all too likely. The idea of being billed micro (I hope!) sums almost every time one accesses the Internet, and somehow keeping track of this in order to deal with probable mistakes, is both daunting and damaging to the (relatively) free and open use of the Web. –Roderick White, editor, Admap magazine, World Advertising Research Center

Perhaps I am optimistic when I strongly disagree. The public simply will not stand for any form of DRM, which is already being abandoned by most major labels. It has become clear that technology has rendered it impossible for any company or industry to control the production and distribution of music. For better or worse, the Internet and inexpensive recording software have turned that control over to musicians and music lovers. More and more people expect free content from the Web. Search is free. Most news and entertainment are free. Indeed, nearly all Web content is free. Much to the dismay of the RIAA, people do not feel as if they are stealing when they copy music from someone else. It is nothing like slipping a CD under your coat and slinking out of a store without paying. In fact, nobody misses the music you just copied at all. Providing advertising supported free music is the next logical step in the evolution of the Internet. For me, this is not just a theory. You will soon see it in action through an initiative I will launch in early 2009. –Peter W. Van Ness, president, Van Ness Group, a Web-development company; founded Personal Computer Solutions in 1983; co-founded StockPlan, Inc. and MyStockOptions.com

I am very sad to agree with this statement, but attempts from organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, libraries, and other groups have so far proven to be mostly fruitless in the face of billionaire companies and mega-conglomerates. The more that content control abounds, the less likely that libraries will be able to offer material to our users and even worse, we will be unable to preserve that content for future generations. –Sarah Houghton-Jan, consultant for the Infopeople Project; digital futures manager, San Jose Public Library; author of the Librarian in Black technology blog

This will most likely be the case. The government has sided with property owners in the past and will continue to do so as a result of the lobbyists representing the industry. Unless something massive happens people will not rally around this cause because they don't feel that they are directly affected. People don't feel that creative property is worth fighting for. –Brian Hare, Barco Law Library

Unfortunately, I'll have to mostly agree with this one, but I think it will be less in the form of Orwellian surveillance and unbreakable DRM (which has proven to be extremely breakable) and more due to a convenience-of-access and price-leveling phenomenon which will bring digital content (including games, movies, music, and text) simply and affordably to most consumers. There will continue to be some “piracy,” but working within the system will be the much simpler, and relatively painless choice, used by the majority. –Jason Stoddard, managing partner/strategy at Centric/Agency of Change, an interactive strategies company; he is also a popular speaker on social media and virtual worlds

Laws will abound and lawless mercenaries will find ways around. –Robert Grant, chief executive officer, VoyaCare Inc., a medical connector company

Copyright protection and content control will only work when content is made affordable on a mass level. Otherwise there will always be a reason for subversion. –Dan Weingrod, vice president for digital operations, Cronin and Co.; oversees creative online initiatives for integrated marketing communications company

Strict content controls will continue to be eroded and shown to be far more a hindrance to the profits of the content creators for many common media. Creators will increasingly use distributors to just distribute rather than completely control their creations. Profits will be generated by making content available ubiquitously and charging small amounts for the convenience and quality of the delivery of nearly any IP the user wants. In short they will give away the product but charge a little for the delivery and make profit in volume. The delivery can be priced by the item or subscribed to in tiered levels up to being unlimited. If obtaining the IP at a small cost is easy and inexpensive enough, the motivation to steal it by bypassing the profit generating distribution channels will be reduced so much, that for the potential pirate it will simply be worth it to just subscribe at a nominal fee and save the hassle and risk of stealing the content. Many IP-based businesses have found that offering content by subscription offers considerable advantages, including a steady revenue stream and predictable operating costs not dependent upon the latest blockbuster to boost sales between sags. –Shawn Kelly Apochromantic, configurations manager, designer, technologist, futurist, General Atomics, and volunteer builder in Second Life

All contents will be DRM free, very soon. People will pay for specific content if they find value in usages like access anywhere, on any device. I will be happy to pay $1 to view a high-definition 3D movie in 2020. Why DRM it if I don't have time to view it 20 times? –Louis Naugès, president, Revevol, an enterprise 2.0 company with offices in France, Spain, the UK and US; a founder of Microcost, an IT services and hardware company based in France

I think that there will be a revolution in copyright protection. There will be a stratification of what we call the Web. By 2020 we will have the ability to have open public information and more premium info, similar to basic cable and premium channels with the purchase of tiers of information. –James Gorman, principal, Working Technology Partners, a company offering technology solutions to businesses

In the first-world nations that have adopted such enforceable and predictable controls this is what the average consumer/user's or citizen's experience will be—but content continues to seek its own freest and least encumbered state—especially entertainment content like music, movies, and video games. There are significant numbers of hackers, data pirates, thieves, and content re-distributors located in nation-states that are sympathetic to, or at least condone, such activities. There is a continuing market for pirated content and a healthy black market in China, Russia, India, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America—outside the control of the US, EU, UN, etc. –Sean Steele, CEO and senior security consultant, infoLock Technologies; leads corporate business strategy for insider-threat management consulting services and solutions company

A quick tour of the physical storage media for software/data in the last 30 years illustrates that this is highly unlikely. It also fights against trends in user-generated content. Finally, perhaps most importantly, the provenance data (lifecycle of data) needed is just not being captured, stored, transported, and interpreted effectively. For example, look at Phil Agre's “Living Data” in Wired magazine 11/1994—he was echoing similar ideas from the ’60s and ’70s, and we are no closer today. –Duane Degler, user-centered designer and strategist for Design for Context, writer and editor for IPGems, focused on knowledge management, semantic integration and performance improvement

There is no way to control and monitor global content. The problem is that there seems to be no way to make money from providing content. –Nancy W. Bauer, chief executive officer and editor-in-chief, WomenMatter Inc.

I mostly agree for the type of communications that you describe in this scenario. However, there are other modes of communication—research findings, for example—where there may be DRM protections to ensure proper attribution and credit but not necessarily for purpose of generating revenue. Similarly, it will be interesting to see what new forms of expression evolve and how the older systems of attribution, credit, recognition and so on are manifested and whether a broad economic model can be built that is analogous to open source but applicable to more diverse forms of creative expression. –Amy Friedlander, director of programs for the Council on Library and Information Resources, a non-profit that services research and higher education

I just can't see everyone getting their act together and staying ahead of the technology curve enough for such a seamless sounding set-up to prevail. –Douglas Schulz, managing editor for online publishing, America’s Health Insurance Plans; formerly a Web team director for a biotech industry organization and manager of Internet and Web services at the Council of Better Business Bureaus

So much content will be available that those who protect it too strongly will risk that their content will not be consumed. –Kathryn K. Goldfarb, president, KG Communications, an independent consultancy

While I would like to see this happen—that content providers prevail in protecting their rights and are able to see an income stream, I don't see sufficient examples that the software manufactures and search engines are working to make this happen. Certainly, if one looks at the copyright issue surrounding Google's indexing of the world's libraries; Google's, Ditto's, and Alexa's indexing of all the JPEG files on the Web; and most recently, Microsoft's Photosynth, I fail to see adequate protection to maintain use rights. I do hope Useplus.org succeeds and Adobe CS4 incorporates a system to reference use rights in the IPTC data.  Having it automated place deposits seems too good to be true. –Robert Visser, owner, PageRank-SEO, a search engine optimization, SEO, and Web marketing company in the Washington, D.C., area

DRM is already dying a painful death. This idea is great in theory but next to impossible to achieve in reality.  –Jay Buys, vice president for digital development, Fleishman Hillard, an international marketing and communications company

Concepts of open source and copy-left are based on respect rather than financial gain. Perhaps what is needed is a clearer divide between those in profit-making and those in liberality mode. In the end, the properly informed customer can choose sides. –Elizabeth Cleary, student, National College of Art & Design, Dublin, Ireland

The ad-driven, open-source, everything-free aggregation model of content has become the accepted norm. Attempts to control or change that model have failed so far. But if the cannibalization of content continues, it will mean less original content and more replicated, unoriginal content with people accepting 10% of knowledge as 100% knowledge and understanding. –Michael Castengera, senior lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Grady College and president of Media Strategies and Tactics Inc., a media consulting firm

It will be essentially impossible to enforce national laws over the Net. Applications such as Second Life will alter the individual's relationship to government. As well, sharing amongst individuals, regardless of nationality, will continue to increase, thereby increasing the sharing of content. The old concepts of copyright are in their last days. –Richard Hammond, knowledge management team leader, United States Environmental Protection Agency; knowledge management expert currently examining Semantic Web and RFID

I think that some forms of creativity would be stifled if there were no controls over copyright. Why would an artist or writer bother creating for a living without controls over their own work? This is for copyrighted material only, not everything on the Web. –Patti Nelson, a Webmaster who works on U.S. government sites

“Billing” will not be according to actual access of copyrighted material but according to modeling of access behaviors. The charges will be so minimal that most people will not care about them. Let's say I spend $100 per month for various forms of Internet access. My charges for copyrighted access will be on the order of $1 if I am a moderate user. Owners of copyrighted material will be compensated out of the pool of collected fees according to the prevalence of their copyrighted material on the Internet. The compensation schedule will not be linear, but will be biased to give the small holder of copyrighted material a slight advantage. The schedule will discourage the massive buying of copyrights. –Dixon Hutchinson, software engineer

The horse has already bolted, and enforcing DRM is one way to really get up the noses of your fans and customers. Companies have to learn to trust their customers who, on the whole, spend more on content than get for free. If companies continue pursuing DRM it will just make them look even more corporate and nasty than they do already. And anyway, the hackers will always find ways round this. –Helen Keegan, founder of Beep Marketing, a self-employed consultant and a judge for the Webby Awards

I disagree with the statement characterizing the intent of DRM efforts: they are intended to aid the reproduction of capital and not ensure creator control. –David Hakken, Indiana University School of Informatics and a professor of anthropology who studies social change and the use of automated information and communication technologies