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. 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 preferred to remain anonymous. This is not the full extent of responses. To see more, read the report PDF, and to read reactions from participants who took credit for their answers, please click here.

Content won't get created without an economic incentive to do so. However, users of content will not put up with severely-restrictive copy-protection schemes. A happy medium will nonetheless be found, pleasing everyone other than those with the mantra that content must be free. There is no such thing as "free."

Information wants to be free.

I would not be surprised that the professional intellectual property community continues to attempt to lock down its intellectual property. The solution is the Creative Commons movement. While the number of people who formally participate in the Creative Commons appears to be limited, a huge number of people create content that is informally a part of the Creative Commons. This base of material that is out there, free for anyone to use, is growing. There is WikiCommons with an excellent media resource. There is Flickr with its collection of creative commons photos. There are blogs and Websites where the content may not formally be CC, but it is free to distribute, discuss, and debate. The IP community may continue to try to lock down its content, but there is an alternative that they can’t lock us out of—and if they alienate the masses sufficiently, it will drive people toward the Commons.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology doesn't work. While legal controls will no doubt be in place, DRM has already failed and seems unlikely to be resuscitated.

While content owners are entitled to compensation, the scenario reflects an extreme in enforcing those rights. There must be a better balance.

Backlash is already under way. We'll still see a mix, and people will be a lot smarter about avoiding onerous DRM.

Yes and no—content owners will find there's more cash to be made by allowing mash-ups, sharing, and through other revenue sources than just direct billing. I disagree with “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.” Relationships will be more blurred.

The key issue is different media have different needs. For instance, musicians make much of their money touring, so giving their music away may actually increase their income. DRM for music may make no sense long-term, while for movies, giving away movies eats into the income source. What I cannot determine is whether we'll continue to see a one-size-fits-all DRM or whether we'll see variations by industry. If we do, then I think the scenario is far more complex than discussed here.

DRM as we know today will collapse. The stable mode will be where the artist and performers are paid in accordance with final audience size.

Newer content providers will eschew DRM so as to reach more people. Hackers will screw DRM systems, too.

The purpose of copyright was to lure creative people into the open by ensuring a decent return on their creativity, as an alternative to keeping their methods or creations secret. What you describe is almost the opposite, a perversion of what patents and copyrights were for. People will resist and evade, when “intellectual property” is used as a bludgeon for the sake of giant corporations, but they will see justice in individuals being compensated for their creativity.

The trend is clearly against these controls, and the law can't keep up with technology. The focus will be on incentives for people to buy legitimately.

Most business models will assume free content sponsored by advertising or some other means of generating income. Some things will be tightly protected, but fundamentally this debate will become moot.

Content value will crash, as public discourse becomes more valuable; copyright will be superceded by a larger intellectual property designation, which will not be available for art-related content.

This would be like taking away existing rights: no simple matter.  People are just now getting more and more used to “free-for-all” programs and widgets, developed collaboratively; they'll extend that frame of mind to other works as well.

The public's reaction to the RIAA's shenanigans regarding its strict Internet piracy punishments, which are already seen as ridiculous by most, will cause a revolution of sorts in the way intellectual property of all kinds is transferred.

The complexities of enforcing copyright will likely exceed the value of the content it is trying to protect.

Although I fear that the answer in 2020 will be mostly agree, my fervent wish is that strict content controls will not come to pass. Recent developments in Canada (see the Fair Copyright for Canada), show that there is some hope for “protesters'” views to be heard. Also I note that the term protesters in the question is used pejoratively so the question can be seen as being biased.

I believe the amount of user-generated content overwhelms efforts to control content.

DRM will be fought against by clever hackers, I don't think the situation will be so different to how it is now.

I disagree mostly because I hope this scenario doesn't come to pass. People will resist any infrastructure that is put in place to enforce this, and as quick as companies are to create encrypted mechanisms for content control, hackers are as quick to create workarounds. I believe, instead, that new models for payment will come into play that will subvert the old mechanisms.

Improvements in advertising will allow content creators to make revenue while allowing free access to content.

I would like to think that this scenario will not be the dominant one, however there is a fundamental issue on financing the future Internet, which may rely on revenue streams tied to DRM control. Large film projects costing 100's of millions may never be financed in the future without DRM, however smaller film projects may still be feasible. Consumers are likely to want a more on-demand service rather than the broadcast nature of today’s media offerings, so flexible delivery/control is required, however DRM will need to be fast-changing to overcome piracy and DRM avoidance.

There will be a point where the music/entertainment industries will have to stop beating up on college kids with minimal access to legal protection and go after adults and others who recognize their tactics are draconian. As more young people who move into adulthood their assumption of free access to music/entertainment will become the norm and begin to be reinforced in legislation and policy.

The degree of monitoring required to prevent breaches of copyright-protection technology creates too many potential privacy hazards to be tolerated in most places. In particular, it would require ISPs to be able to decode encrypted transmissions, at which point personal communications, financial transactions, and every other form of online activity is no longer private.

There will be better tracking of those using but it will be tough to identify those who subvert the system.

File sharing will actually increase the amount of content that will circulate without any copyright-protection.

Never! Even some of the people who are asked to protect IP such as IT support staff at universities and lawyers, breach IP restrictions for private use because they think it's stupid. Our IT support department has a secret MP3 server and my lawyer friend specializing in IP law rips DVDs all the time. Nobody but some weird bureaucrats actually believes that the old Hollywood IP regime will stand much longer.

We've already seen iTunes and Amazon move to less DRM in response to the economics of consumer demand. New business models will be emerging that don't really on the exploitation of IP and copyright.

If we look backward I think we see a trend away from strict controls on content. This will be even more present in the future.

I have to agree with the scenario, unfortunately, but it will imply a strong, almost non-democratic control of everything citizens will do on Internet via the Internet providers who won't have choice but cooperate with authorities.

It can’t work.

I think things will become more “open” as people realise the value of knowledge increases when shared.

Corporate interests [will make this happen].

They are trying to do this, but it seems to be failing. If this does happen, the likely pathway is to install the various controls in the name of “national security” and then extend them to a vast number of other areas, including IP control.

The bad guys win.

Too true! The record companies are the ones forcing these laws through, and we (the consumers) are going to suffer from their greed!

Not only will large companies take advantage of this automatic billing, but so will individuals, whether they be in an equivalent of YouTube or Second Life or wherever people are producing new things. The big shift here will be people will have copy protection on more things. Current social trend around making will be moved to similar models as the big companies—so standardized. Multiple currencies, whether it be QQ coins or American dollars will have automatic converters.

Content will proliferate through networks and copyright will be non-existent.

Available technology will be able to subvert available DRM techniques, for the foreseeable future. This will require an ongoing rewriting copyright and related laws.

In relation to this subject, one interesting notion is molecular rights management, from Jamais Cascio:  http://openthefuture.com/2007/09/molecular_rights_management_1.html

It will never happen in our society. If it is possible, you don't need to worry about drugs. We have to admit human nature. We can't have a good copy-protection mechanism, like you can't have remove virus, spam, and even spyware.

This is forcing an out-of-date business model onto a new technology, but it depends on whether someone can come up with something more compelling. I suspect most will come from subscription services…Alternatively, there will be an agent function: I pay for what I access, but again the processing is done by the middleman. But there will be a battle for access to the customer...  And that will skew everything. As for free speech and innovation: I don't buy this one! Web 2 makes it easier for individuals to carve out a space and communicate to limited or global audiences. It will get easier. The threat is whether people actually use it.

Copyright enactment for products that can be copied easily like music or movies is doomed to fail. A copyright tax is more likely.

We would move. This is not an elastic cost. 

Copy-protection schemes will be mostly defeated by market demand and technology. Consumers want to move their music and video to their tablets, PCs, TV without hindrance. As well there will be an explosion of user-generated video and music content—even full-length feature movies.

Unfortunately this will likely come to pass unless there is a unlikely turnover in law.

The public revolt, in the form of “voting with your dollars,” will force companies to back down, and will result in changes in laws; and in legislatures, too, if the rascals have to be thrown out.

Much of this drive is coming from American companies and resistance to the invasion of privacy represented by these technologies is widespread and deep. The impending change of political alignment in the US may have a positive outcome on this development.

Intellectual property rights are a contested market in music, fine arts and literature, the digital rights had been an emerging sphere where establishing copy rights over software, systems, Web designs or images had been very difficult because of the fluidity of ideas and inventions. Hardly anything stays immobile in the net before it becomes shared and improved upon like an intricate mosaic of continuous labour. Every new artifact has to be tagged and patented with a unique ISBN equivalent that will monitor each new addition to it. Until now this could only done through Dublin-core standards to metatag digital property under the Creative Commons license.

DRM failed in the past 10 years—nothing to show that things will improve over the next 10.

This scenario could happen and I hope it won't. Music artists are already publishing their music on the Web for free or giving away free CDs in newspapers. More and more music artists are moving away from the strict control of the music companies. Also a lot of people like to put information up for free to help other people. This is the spirit of the Web and hopefully, this will be the way it goes (but it will probably be a close call).

This model is too unbalanced to be stable for very long. The question becomes simply, “Who will be destroyed in the battle?” as in, “Will individual careers be cut short?” or, “Will whole nations falter because of their commitment to such a one-sided deal?”

There will be always ways to get around the system. Locks are only for the honest. Also, why shouldn't content become free for the consumer? Isn't knowledge created by sharing? Content control and content pricing are diametrically opposite to the first question on low-cost PCs and mobile phones. What good are low-cost communication devices if the content to be accessed is expensive?

DRM will dominate certain sectors, but user-created content will dominate overall.

Copyright protection will apply to a large amount of content, but will not dominate as derivations and expansion of “open source” and virtual communities grow.

Intellectual-property laws do not always account for the digital world and will evolve to provide greater protections to intellectual property rights over the Internet. Intellectual properties are tangible assets that have value to the owner.

I hope copyright becomes more flexible, rather than more stringent, and that some sort of compromise can be found.

Lets hope this world, which some are intent on seeing become a reality, is overtaken by an uprising of advocates for consumer choice. I would guess that by 2010 or 2012, there are enough cases of consumer DRM disasters (not being able to transfer the content for which they paid to a new device when the old one becomes obsolete) that policymakers step in. In addition, business models will also demonstrate that DRM is not a market accelerator but a content market inhibitor.

I am wary of any future state predictions in which order wins out over chaos. I believe a much more likely scenario is managed chaos in which the most egregious violators are prosecuted, but the majority of small-scale, relatively innocuous (read: non-profit) copyright violations continue unabated.

Yes, such a system will exist, and may even function well. Piracy in some form or another also will exist and it will be a pain in the neck. This battle will take place across the globe and will never be won by one side or another.

While Digital Rights Management will make great strides, both in terms of legislation and technology, there will continue to be individuals and groups who misuse material distributed in digital formats. The courts will not necessarily be on the side of the rights holders.

This simply would not be tolerated. Brilliant minds will always collaborate to circumvent such technologies.

Don't see how this type of control can be implemented given the shifting technology landscape.

The interests of the users of material are diffuse while the interests of the owners are concentrated. This asymmetry ensures the owners will prevail, but less smoothly than the above narrative suggests.

An entirely new class of merchants (DRM brokers) work on ways to package and cross-sell material in ways that save consumers money (given how complex all of this will be).

Wishful thinking—the thieves are going to win this one, the rest of us will lose.

You can see the trend now where major labels are starting DRM free downloads. I see this continuing. If this prediction does come through, then I see a techi rebellion that could be damaging to the network itself. Bottom line is the there will always be ways to get around DRM, and the hacker community will continue to work ways around DRM and IT systems.

DRM is a blight. Customers are increasingly annoyed by the limitations DRM imposes, both in usage and interoperability. We're already seeing the elimination of DRM on music, it's going to spread to other electronic media as well.

Companies hoping for this scenario will vanish, or at least shrink dramatically. New business models will evolve, and the major players may not be the same old, same old.

Due to developing countries being so far behind in technology, in value placed on copyright protection, etc., it will take more than 12 years to reach this state.

The trend now is to sell DRM-free music. This will continue.

For every DRM technology, there are 50 ways around it.

It seems likely that more apathy will set in with regard to copyright issues, rather than more stringency. The difficulties with tracking and tracing infringement will only increase as technology improves and users become more advanced.

Music DRM is presently moribund; technologists are already predicting a similar trajectory for video DRM. DRM is already unpopular in the developed world. It fails catastrophically in developing nations that lack the legal structures to enforce it and where the pressures to circumvent and/or counterfeit the physical unit are much greater. DMCA clones have failed in the EU and Canada due to popular resistance after observing the effects of the US law. Legal business models that make media consumption ubiquitous, cheap, and fashionable will succeed. When most consumers are use legit services, the die-hard pirates will be easier to prosecute. Hollywood and especially the music industries will have to adapt to lower profits, but they will survive. Some DRM may linger on closed, specialized systems like video game consoles. Finally, there will be robust laws passed to protect remixes, mashups, and fan-created media.

If the entertainment industry were to ever become this restrictive, a grass-roots production system would develop that would bypass such excessive safe guards. One of the early indicators that Microsoft's Vista operating system would struggle, in my opinion, was the outcry on many technology blogs about its excessive use of DRM in the design of the OS. In addition, any ISP that implemented such restrictions would also see a dramatic loss of market share. The only way to sustain a business model in the presence of piracy is to offer a better product than the pirates. DRM-laden products are inferior.
You don't even have the counter-arguments to DRM correct, and you are foolish if you believe people will not find a way around the “content controls.”

Maybe this is wishful thinking, but movements like Creative Commons make me think that the world is finally waking up and paying attention to over-restrictive copy-right controls, because it is affecting them in a very real, very concrete way. There's going to be a big battle coming, and there's no clear sign of who's going to win yet—but consumers have a powerful voice, when they wish to use it, and the generation that's growing is also growing awful sick of being told how they can use items they paid for.

This is one area where I expect open source and the sheer numbers of uncooperatives to win.

Open source is becoming comfortable for more people, and will become increasingly so. People are unhappy with DRM and are working to avoid it, and content providers will have to accept this and work with the increased open access.

People will stop using systems that enforce restrictive DRM. The current trend (Amazon MP3 downloads, for example) points towards an overall loosening of DRM and allowing consumers to use their goods  in more reasonable ways. This will especially be important to consumers as they come to have more and more different machines (iPods, computers, phones) on which they want to use the same files.

But there will be a substantial black market, underground “free” content providers, and consumers of older, pre-DRM media; and they will affect the cultural space.

The power of creation will ultimately prove more compelling than the power of control over intellectual property; ethical use will include crediting where credit is due a la Creative Commons licensing, and profits will come from a different mode of use.

Hopefully, content will be protected.

No way. Look at Baen Books as an example, by giving their books away online and digitally they have increased sales of hardcopy books.

Unfortunately I agree. I wish instead that Amazon and iTunes would partner with public and academic libraries so that library patrons could use iPods (and Apple computers) and Kindles with their public library cards. Amazon and Apple should also work with subscription database vendors like Ebsco and Gale to make browsing databases easy on iPods and Kindles.

Movement is the other way, and rightly so.

Mostly agree....but prices will be very low.

I definitely don't think this is the way things are going.

I certainly hope this does not come true. This is way to restrictive. It definitely interferes with free speech.

When most of the users of the Internet are below the poverty line, does anyone really think Disney is going to be able to bill someone in Bangladesh every time an image of Mickey Mouse is displayed?

It is really hard to imagine such things would be happening 20 years later in countries like China.

Alas, I fear this will be true. Companies such as Apple have trained us to sip. Of course this will also kill libraries as soon as ebook technology hits its prime.

Money talks, and the rights of consumers have routinely been overlooked in favor of those claiming copyright.

Don't know how they would even do that, but something like it will happen.

Copyright protection was invented for print. It is going the way of the dinosaur.

This assumption does not take sufficient account of the growth of the open-source movement and people's willingness to share materials they themselves control. Commercial copyright owners ARE likely to do what they can to continue to assert ownership and protect their intellectual property; but I believe that content will represent an increasingly smaller percentage of overall creative content. Evidence: lifting of DRM controls on some commercial sites; increasing number of open content journals succeeding; maturation of Creative Commons.

People will always want to get paid for their ideas. Now if everything was strict, maybe the cost would go down?

Depressingly, this seems to be the way things are heading. I do believe there will be “sneakernet” subverters who subvert to engage their own creativity however.

Don't think the automatic thing will be set up. Do think DRM will prevail, but pirates will persist.

Given that copyright control for software is not effective now in some countries and region after software has been popular for 20 years, how can I believe content control for Web information will be effective after Web content is popular for 20 years.

Too much of a barrier to commerce in the long run. Money will trump control.

The amount of money invested in protecting existing business models is bigger than the amounts invested in developing alternatives. The IP lobby is very well funded and protects established business models.

This seems to be the overall direction of intellectual property in general, even more so vis-a-vis the net. While the peer-to-peer networks will continue to play a role for quite sometime, they will slowly disappear yet remain key players in the developing world, where infringements are harder to enforce.

We will see more legislation, but enforcement will be challenging, especially in countries that do not adhere to international copyright agreements.

I think this would make the world of music so complicated no one would want to produce copyrighted materials.

The 2020 scenario sounds like a plausible solution to the problem, but difficult to implement.

Information wants to be free—money will be made from ads—regulation of this type will hurt everyone.

The ability to verify plagiarism will be instantaneous with all published works accessible digitally. Software to scan the Web will be used regularly by anyone who publishes anything as a natural part of doing business.

We have to protect content rights. Except for music, it is an open question in my mind as to how extensive watching movies will be on the “little screen.”

Business will drive content protection. Government will be reluctant to interfere. ISPs will not be able to see violations and will not be a part of the content value chain.

We will have to devise a new approach to copyright ownership. Just as print media such as journals are increasingly going on-line with relative access through libraries and are governed by fair-use policies, the new policies will have to address the shifts in production and materials due to the Internet. The profits have included all of the middlemen as well as the owners and creators. We are already seeing young artists bypassing firms and their expensive advertising agents and going directly to the consumer via the Internet. The huge profits for many people will probably begin to diminish.

Since no one owns the Internet, enforcement of DRM will be difficult, even with technology enhancements.

People will always find a way to keep the Internet free. In that light, there will be protections on intellectual property, but not exactly restrictions, as long as people continue to expand their use of the Internet for sharing ideas.

Technology will not rule the intellectual property/digital rights mangement. Creative Commons will become more common, duration of copyright shorter (from 70 years now to 20 years).

Intellectual property concept will change.

This kind of enforcement will be not be practical.

Though I agree with the right of IP holders to control their products, the view of what they considered will be altered. This push for a more "totalitarian" control of IP will ultimately have a negative effect. I can see DRM acceptable for people when it is not intrusive and invisible. This means that those scenarios listed would not happen because people would have accepted it. If companies continue on their trek, politicians will step in and protect their constituents (which means California will support a stiffer Sonny Bono bill and Kansas would support the people). I also don't see ISPs ever becoming the gatekeepers. This requires them to monitor all traffic at all times and makes THEM liable. Who would allow themselves to become liable to a trillion-dollar industry?

Content will be too ubiquitous to be controlled in this manner.  Copyright will still exist and apply to some content. But most content providers will not bother—as the business model will see content more like advertising than a product.

For every protection, there will be challengers to break it. Creators don't control the content, publishers and corporations do. Creators will always have problems with the restriction.

Content protection and DRM are broken within a short period of time. There will always be ways to circumvent the system.  DRM and content-protection does not work, when the MPAA and RIAA finally realize this, a new delivery method can be created.

Technology and copyright need to meet somewhere and technological perpetuation of the existing system is unlikely. Encryption is going to make the enforcement scenario here very unlikely.

DRM seems to be dying a deserved death, replaced by some form of creative commons licensing.

This may be true in the United States, Australia, and Europe, but much less likely in other parts of the world

Someone will always create a work-around to DRM. Trying to control creative content from the top down (top meaning courts and media owners) will not prevail.

The ad model is in. The New York Times is taking the lead. Other newspapers will either follow their lead or lose revenue

It would in most/many cases be impossible to enforce.

We're already well on our way to this happening.

I'm not sure any government could actually control the international force that is the Internet, especially in terms of the sharing of digital media. I think there will pushes in that direction, but most won't be successful

No way. The problem is too big, and in 50 years I still don't think they have it figured out. Those who are tech-savvy will always figure out a way around things.

The European and Asian economic forces have not yet weighed in on this matter. By 2020 they will influence this subject. US policy will be thwarted if artists can be blackmarketed in Europe and Asia.

There will be efforts of this kind, but I think there will be more sophisticated and more broadly based "defeats" of copy protected for-pay sites.

I think the creative commons movement will be significant

I suspect that things will go on much as today with a balance between copyright protection and libertarianism on the net.

Technology used to enforce IP protections is so easily and often circumvented that it becomes impossible to enforce on a world-wide scale. Companies also begin to realize that it is far more cost-effective to support open standards and platforms in software, and that freely available content simply generates more buzz about the artists' other material. Pay-access to services is likely to be more viable than access to data/content.

We will see a growing open-content movement and models of content control that are more directly overseen by the actual creators of the content.

IP must be protected. Copyrighting books and other creative work has not stifled creativity in the past. Granted, many excellent works never made it to the market due to the gate-keepers, but there are always other avenues to make this work available to the public. The Internet already offers many of these.

If the above scenario dominates, intelligent, progressive, free people will not be using the offered devices in the “approved” way, or true creativity will be stifled and distributed almost exclusively underground

Experience to-date indicates a growing leakage of content away from DRM management. My hope is that the cost/effort of maintaining control becomes too expensive for the rate-of-return and that content creators derive greater benefit from more open access. Even a hybrid of some free access with more options for a fee seems more likely than complete control.

Most people will protest the tight controls. As users of the Internet become more and more creative, they will find ways around DRM and/or will rebel against rigid controls.

Even today, music companies are releasing albums in MP3 formats to suit customers’ needs. DRM will always complicate usage of consumer electronics as it creates an overhead without any true benefit for the customer.

Despite the efforts of many, the old adage that “money talks” still holds true—especially in politics. As long as this is the case media companies will get the laws and regulations they desire. Moreover, with the desired laws in place courts will have little choice but to rule in favor of entities such as RIAA in suits between content providers and content users.

This scenario is too organized and big-brotherish. I think there probably will continue to develop more coordination among agencies. Your fully operational scenario actually is pretty grim. I can't see it actually happening because too many people want too many different things. That's all for the best.

It will become increasingly difficult for anyone to control content and, regardless of legislation, those who wish to steal or misappropriate content will continue to do so.

Two systems will develop. One will be controlled by copyright-protection technology. The other will be self-generated. Open-source software, Creative Commons licensing are examples.

People have been using copyrighted materials for non-commercial use since each form of new media arose. Some leeway should continue to be allowed.

Certainly MP3 files are a good example of this progress. However, whether this can be achieved in countries like China isn't clear.

The copyright model won't be the primary way to deal with intellectual property.

Users will not tolerate this approach and will demand greater ability to manipulate and use content as they desire. Change is coming...

Not so sure it will be as draconian.

This is so Orewllian, it frightens me. I imagine us monitoring things more closely (look at the UK and CCTV), but find it difficult to see this sort of protectionism in place.

Fair use for education is being restricted and the balance is tipping in favor of copyright holders. This will greatly stifle creativity and innovation.

I can foresee some major battles by free speech and “free information” advocates happening before this scenario comes to pass.

The tide has already turned against DRM and we will soon see it disappear in lieu of greater trust being placed in consumers to use content responsibly (and legally).

The powerful recording and publishing industries will pressure Congress to support the interests of their businesses. Innovation will be confined to big businesses.

Freedom, connection, and collaboration will rule.

The Internet, and Web 2.0, thrives shareware, collaboration, and other information-sharing tools that would be inhibited by such copyrighting. This is violation of free speech and stifles the spirit driving the growth and development of intellectual property.

Digital rights management will extend to all people, not just the entertainment world.
I think content control will happen in rich nations with good Internet infrastructure, but less in poorer nations. There will still be a lot of outlaws.

Unless software dramatically improves, this will not be possible.  It is currently very hard to tell which computer touches which picture, sound clip, or movie on the main Web. While this may be possible from cable sites (NBC, CBS, Fox, Discovery, etc.) for most places it will be impossible to track.

The recent [US television] writers' strike reinforces what is at stake for businesses and creators...money. The efforts to limit “fair use” in the area of education will continue.

Money is the very simple reason that copyright content will be more closely monitored.

I agree with this scenario, but only because of the comparatively short-term time frame being considered. Eventually, notions of IP ownership will shift as ever more non-institutionally created content floods the world. Individual "amateur" creators will have less sense of ownership of their work...and, indeed, will welcome its wide reuse.
The DRM issue will be resolved as legislatures finally look at how digital media differs from others. Laws will change to reflect the reality 21st Century copyright. But things will get worse before they get better.

There always is an answer (or several) to new DRM initiatives. This quiet, “lawful” future does not seem feasible.

It will be the open source nature of technology that will permeate the future. We won't have a future of DRM because those who proclaim DRM will fail due to pressure and innovation from the open masses.

There must be a way to stop the privateering that is going on, particularly in China. All the legislation outside China will not stop that. I can imagine that for every technology developed to control illegal use and copying, they will come up with their own technical patch to void it.

The protectionists will have a slight lead on this issue, but both sides will prevail.

The individual and aggregate time, creativity, and mental power of the masses who desire the maximum of fast and free information will swamp corporate and legal efforts.Compensation for intangible products will have to be achieved by some sort of uniform tax or other allocated charge.

Open access to at least scholarly content will be the rule. Large quantities of music and fiction will be freely available.

This strategy is functionally suicide for content creators. If such a state of affairs ever occurred, it would not last. New products are more valuable than old products.

Copyright does not protect the authors, but only mercantile interests and it damages the poorest countries/peoples.

Agreement in this case does NOT signify...well, agreement. I think that's how it WILL be.

Information, creative products, and intellectual property are destined to be free. Monopolistic attempts will fail. Methods for micropayments will increase availability to those who can afford it and much more adequately remunerate producers while liberating information to those who cannot afford to pay.

It would be too hard to control the content; companies don't have time to monitor, even it was a law.

The music industry has tried various things to control the content AND the recent writers' strike brings up the whole “who benefits?” argument when the net becomes a surrogate of the TV.

I have a dream....Apple and Sony and other companies are already working against the DRM. I hope this will be the way, with new way of business not tied to the protectionism.

This is want the content corporations would like, but there will be continued backlash against their obviously self-serving attempts to over-control content rights. It is more likely that we will see a continued stalemate and tug-of-war in 2020 than anything close to a resolution of the problem.

The courts, at least in the US, have come down again and again on the side of media companies. Technology is constantly being developed to enforce copyright protection, but there will also be increasing attempts to subvert those technologies.

Free speech has historically been messy and will continue to be so.

Already, Music DRMs are falling by the wayside. By 2020 they will be as quaint as a pot-bellied stove is to us today.

If, at the same time, the “greed factor” can be controlled so that there is a sense of equity both on the part of content providers and content users, this could be possible.

This draconian view is one of two possible outcomes. If public outcry is sufficient and networked “sales” mechanisms (think Radiohead's “In Rainbows”) show sufficient velocity then we may see the opposite; a few content dinosaurs grasping at the last vestiges of the empire they once thought they controlled.

The key issue is basic economics. As long as content is inexpensive and high quality, the market will accept copyright controls, as with music and movie downloads today. If prices rise, or high quality bootlegs are available, copyright controls will lose ground. But the vast majority of information on the Internet is already free, and as copyright protections expire, the proportion will continue to grow. And of course there will always be those who don't want to pay—and as one of the founding fathers of science fiction wrote, what science can create, science can circumvent.

There will be a continuing need for copyright protection, but with even larger amounts of user-generated content Creative Commons licensing will become increasingly significant.

I can't envision Internet service providers taking on the policing role and notifying authorities of violations.

You can't fight the Internet. Users (markets) will boycott copy protection. Always have; always will.

There will be lots of new licensing schemes available to make IP widely accessible, and many writers, artists, and other creators will distribute content freely for mash-up purposes.

Protesters, geeks will prevail.

Open source and social media has demonstrated the power and willingness of people to provide free content. However, the Creative Commons tagging will be more popular and CC terms need to be revised.

Removing individual choice will force people into seeking other ways to share content.

It is impossible to execute this scenario. Fastest Internet connection (most wanted) relies on peer-to-peer or mesh organization. Once something is published on the Internet, it becomes public property, for all practical purposes. There is no way to bill for use of this, no effective way that can keep people from circumventing any copy protection. Internet providers share in this, since they deal with the free-market wishes of their clients, who want their privacy and will only pay for “first rights” to something, not residual payments. See Archives.org

We will move from an era of highly-protected intellectual capital to one of shared and open access. It can't be any other way, and organizations will be less challenged to monetize the new way than they currently think.

Industry will push in this direction...and will be constantly subverted by technologies that bypass the controls.

This may become a reality in Western countries but not worldwide. Cultural differences of copyright protection are too large. In academia “open access” movement will continue be strong.

A new business model will emerge, one that is better adapted to the variety of media/data sources available in a new digital world.

Sadly, I think this will be the case, severely limiting innovation and progress.

It's the Wild West for now, and years from now children will sit at their grandparents’ feet to hear tales of how wide open content sharing was in the old days. The one possible spoiler can be summed up by the cyberpunk saw, "Information wants to be free."  Maybe I'm wrong, and our whole idea about copyright and intellectual property evolves into something very different from today.

I don't think this issue will be resolved in such a buttoned-down fashion by 2020.

Although I am hopeful that there is recognition that there are educational, library, free-speech, and innovation protections.

Court systems, responding to the growing caseloads of unfounded litigious allegations, are becoming overwhelmed with time-consuming work that prevents them with dealing with the real problems of our society.

I agree with some of the scenario, but the monitoring and punishment aspects are a little frightening, and I don't think people would stand for it. Content creators will maintain ownership and rights for their content, but will find alternative ways to benefit from broader distribution rather than solely focusing on stricter controls. Maybe I'm naive, but I think that most people want to “do the right thing” and pay a fair price and that the benefits of more openness outweigh the drawbacks of stricter DRM lockdown. Stealing content is just stupid, and so is expecting something for nothing.

We already see movement away from DRM in the music industry and in publishing. There will be a movement toward balance as long as advocates against DRM legislation stay active.

I wish it won't be true, but this is where I expect things to go.

Even if copyright protection standards proliferate, there always will be ways to evade them. Amazon its about to sell music without this protection, and this will be the trend.

DRM will be much more widespread, but I don't believe the access will occur on a one-to-one pay/use model. Users won't accept that. There will be some sort of aggregation where users pay X dollars/euros/etc. to gain access to a portfolio of digital content. Time and time again, this payment model has proven to be successful, and it will work for digital content as well. Having said that, I believe there will be a healthy chunk of digital content offered up in the “pay us what you want” model like Radiohead is trying with their album.

This may play out like in the ’70s, when the media producers wanted to stop home recording of pay-channel movies and music off the radio.

The Internet is too vast to be under such control. 

Some offerings of music without DRM and open-access archives offer hope that copyright-protection technology will not dominate.

Copyright implementation will change, but I don't see automated reporting of violations.

The mass of material on the Internet is too great. Copyrighted information will be swamped by alternative sources of material.

Ironically, China may become the best example of true free enterprise with free entry and exit.

There are too many political entities involved to allow this [scenario] to be effective.

The benefits of free information on our economy and the general well being of society will greatly outweigh any rights to proprietary information. Companies who own copyrights will be forced to find a system to monetize their content while promoting its free flow through the Internet (i.e. product placement for embedded ads, etc.).

The Internet and its users have a history of circumventing the bars and restrictions set up by larger companies or government. While there is no doubt that rules and technologies will be more restricted in 2020, there will also continue to be a counter movement that will be at the forefront of circumventing these rules and restrictions and which will subsequently filter down to greater masses of people. Rules and restrictions will likely be doing catch up for a very much longer period than regulators and industry hope to.

The Internet evolves so rapidly, I doubt controls will develop fast enough to outpace those who circumvent them.

The world may be flat and the Internet may be the greatest example of a free-wheeling community, but I believe that creative individuals will continue to want to protect content and get paid for that which is used and enjoyed by others.

Distribution over the Internet will focus around access...industries will be slow to focus on technologies, delaying the condition being responded to.

I mostly agree with the scenario, with the caveat that people will retain some “fair use” rights, for instance having the ability to transfer a song from computer to car or a movie from TV to TV.

Due to the worldwide nature of the Web and the desire for individual privacy (and even anonymity) over anything else, full control is likely never possible. Two parallel streams will develop: 1. IP holders who wish to maintain full control of their IP will find ways to distribute the content at lower cost or for free, monetizing it via advertising or other methods that benefit them. 2. Open source and GNU will become the predominant source for content, spurred on by social network sites and a new generation believing knowledge should be owned by the human race, not commercial entities.

Have you read “The Starfish and the Spider”? I suspect that although copyright protection will become a dominant theme, those pesky starfish will be hard to corral.

There are already too many pirates to allow the restrictions to control the content.

This is the best scenario for copyright management agencies. Such a brave new world may exist but there will be parallel worlds enjoying free access and/or no robot police
The advancement in technological development will continue apace as before, and the legislatures and courts around the world will continue to walk many steps behind, trying to catch up with their nation's technological development.

While oversight will help reduce copyright infringement, there will always be individuals that wish to subvert the system, which will increase the cost to all users.

It is difficult to think of a scenario that would see some of the extreme powers granted by the US (and many other) governments being clawed back. Furthermore, the technology convergence has seem to also spurred the horizontal mergers of content providers, facilities-based network providers and large IT/CE into super-media firms, who will use their power and weight to ensure the digital genie does not get out of the bottle.

The man always wants to protect the bottom line.

At the same time we see corporations solidifying controls on digital content, I am encouraged that the general public is willing to share as seen on YouTube and Flickr. I also hope that the open access movement and efforts such as with the [US] National Institute for Humanities requiring that journal articles be made publicly available following a short moratorium gain more momentum.

The growth of high-quality free content will probably apply significant pressure against the value of protectionist scenarios.

So many violate the copyright law on the Internet. There needs to be better software to prevent piracy and theft.

Those who produce the materials should have a right to protect their utilization.

Content controls will expand, but not to a police state level. If certain media become too much of a hassle to access, customers will just stop buying it and look for alternatives.

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 it is that libraries will be able to offer material to users and, even worse, we will be unable to preserve that content for future generations.

Even though these industries are lobbying and pushing hard, they will have to develop other business models. The younger generations don't want to pay and will not pay, and Internet service providers are currently unwilling to be the watchdog agencies.

There's just no way to control this...and moves from Amazon and all in recent months to offer non-DRM media suggest that executives are beginning to realize that DRM is alienating customers, not keeping people from “illegal” use of their own material.

Copyright protection and people's ability to enforce it will most likely escalate, but I doubt that even within 12 years laws will be comprehensive enough to control much of the illegal information dissemination.

It depends on the kind of content. Copyright will maintain its strengths in some entertainment media—fiction and films—but not in scientific, technical, and medical literature.

I see the future becoming more open—a place where major networks/record companies have less power. Content producers will market more directly to their clients without the need for these organizations which drive up the cost of materials.

“Information wants to be free” advocates have lost the head start they had from major corporations' slow adoption of the Internet. The Internet will continue to be more and more fully integrated into the business and intellectual-property practices of corporations.

DRM, as it currently stands, is a technological barrier to the wide acceptance of digital content. As someone who is considered technologically savvy, I have experienced extreme frustrations with e-books and e-audiobooks coded with DRM considering the minimal access requirements I have. If I have experienced these frustrations, yet still persevered because I'm also fairly bull-headed, I can't imagine what the average consumer of these types of files experiences. I just cannot see the economic feasibility of only providing DRM-encoded files if people are not going to purchase them as they feel they cannot access those files in an easy and useful way.

Rights of the creators must be preserved.

People will continue to find ways to get the content they want. It will almost certainly be illegal to do so—I don't see the courts failing to shore up DRM.

The music business has already proven how difficult it is for artists to have total control of their work.

I can see this going either way—either legislators will come out for consumers, or media companies will strong-arm them into legislating for DRM. I think the market will strive toward openness, but in the meantime media companies might be able to lobby successfully for DRM. I don't think DRM is viable as a lasting solution, however.

The law seems to be 10 years behind what is actually going on in society. Already many musicians are thinking of new ways of making profit, but still allow creative use of their work. Moreover, for every new security technology, there is a hack quickly being developed.

I disagree partly because I don't want to believe this scenario would actually come true, and partly because I saw a huge number of people become aware of DRM for the first time when Internet radio sites were threatened. More of my friends and family wrote to their legislators over that than anything I had seen before.

While I don't agree with most of this scenario, I do believe that courts will take a very hard-line stance as it relates to copyright.

The value of digital goods and the cost of their distribution will not be high enough to sustain such DRM-dominated world. Of course, there will be efforts on both directions, but the most important factor is the economic reality. Most contents are not valuable enough for such widespread use of DRM. They are much more valuable when free of DRM as promotional, informational enticement. DRM will always be broken as a technology due to its fundamental structure, i.e., your customer is the attacker. The role of DRM will be limited to a small portion of digital content where it is economically viable. The process will be painful due to the slow understanding of the changing market and economics by the media industry.

I work in a law library and already see this happening. I think it will only increase.

Looking at the development of open source, peer-to-peer copying, etc. It seems more likely that other schemes for compensating content creators will move in the direction of destroying, rather than supporting monopolistic control of data.

This scenario gives too much credit to legislators and industry and not enough to users and hackers. While people should be appropriately compensated for their content, this scenario is not likely to happen on the scale suggested.

We must NOT let DRM erode free speech and expression.

There will be a significant backlash to DRM. Look at Amazon as a clear-cut example. There will need to be a scenario of, "I bought this content and can transfer it—to a point—among different kinds of media."

Similar to models requiring paid subscriptions for online content, we will get to the point where the benefits of free content outweigh the detriments.

Schools and artists will balk crying “fair use,” and the technology will be forced to roll back from such instant bills much the way DRM is shrinking from the online music sales world.
The more strictly companies try to control their material, the more diligently people will work to pirate it, and the more narrowly “fair use” is defined by the courts, the more some people will feel it is actually their moral duty to subvert the copyright laws.
Access to larger markets and micro-payments represent a more efficient model.

The copyright protections will have to be more “clever” to combat piracy & freeware.

I see this coming but the extremely arcane legal system surrounding copyrights has a lot of cleaning up to do in the next 12 years!

However, in 2020 the dominance and influence of big media companies will be diminished. So, while media companies will use DRM technology to protect their intellectual property, content that is free and grassroots will play an increasingly important role.

There are two sides to this: copyright owners and the up and coming population (aka users of MySpace, Facebook, etc.). They want free and open access. They want to share and participate.  This will be a fight and the outcome will be interesting.

I think it is likely that the big business behind content production will win over the free spirit of many in the Internet world.

While the lock on content is likely to be true, the mechanisms of enforcement are not. ISPs would fight tooth and nail any requirement that they be held responsible for policing their networks. Suggestions to date that they be asked or required to do so have met with fierce opposition.

Content owners will need to find alternate channels for revenue than the content itself. For example, instead of generally billing users for copyrighted material, they will rely more on the solution that the material is used in (i.e.; not focus on the data, but the copyright the solution that uses the data).

This will lead to user profiling and potential targeted marketing.

It is unrealistic to believe by 2020 the issue of DRM will be solved. For every solution to protect copyrighted material, there will be someone inventing a way to break it.

Then as now, cash-strapped college students will find a way around it.

Past history would indicate that those who want to copy intellectual property illegally will figure out how to do so. Even if the music and film industry could make progress in American courts, they will not be able to stop international entities from continuing the practice. If they insist on prosecution and legal punishment as their only course of action, they will eventually destroy their own market of consumers.

Most people understand that information is power. With so many pulls on our attention, it's clear that those who give away content gain the ability wield significant influence over behavior.

Technology will make it possible to detect and locate content to a limited extent. Content owners will offer affiliate programs through which end users will generate and split ad revenue when displaying copyrighted content. Everybody will become a content distributor and will share the ad revenue with the content owners.

IP is the protection of ideas, and ideas will continue to be the currency that drives economies. IP owners will always need to balance control with viral, word-of-mouth distribution, and buzz. I don't think you're going to end up with the draconian controls you're talking about above, because creators (the IP owners) understand they need “earned” distribution.

The exception would be those who wish to offer their content without restrictions. See recent release of Radiohead's album via a "pay what you want" scheme. This in turn offers a measure of true value to those providing that content.

I fear the charging and regulation of the Internet and its content, but I feel the prevailing winds will force us there.

Knowledge will still find a way to be free.

In spite of efforts at regulatory/legal copyright enforcement and technological solutions, mass collaboration and unauthorized alternatives will continue to emerge and grow in response.

I don't think it will get to this point—there are already strong pressures against DRM that should lead to a loosening of strictures and the search for a new business model. The main problem is that content under different DRM systems is not compatible with every type of player or viewer; also, if content is lost due to a machine breaking or crashing, the current system means that you have to buy everything again. The incentives with DRM are so skewed against buying that something will have to give very soon. Cracking down on piracy in the way described above would be toxic, especially to the music industry.

I think we are seeing something similar to this at present in the Copyright Clearance Center. It is vital that we protect intellectual property.

The open-source movement may well extend to other forms of content.

Looking at what's happening now, some sort of serious IP control will emerge.

The actual creators of content, writers, musicians, artists, are the ones who *should* get copyright. If those creative people can find or create labor unions to join, they will get the credit and profit of their work. If not, creativity will whither.

DRM will be a major failure. The Internet developments will lead to total overhaul of IP.

Many programs allow people to bypass the blocked access to copyrighted material. There are still a lot of problems with controlling who has access.

We are in a time of flux, with technology changing rapidly toward digital media. I think that eventually a balance will be struck that protects copyrights and gives consumers flexibility in how they use the digital products they buy.

The current system cannot be sustained because it does not have public support. In the future, consumers will pay a fee or tax for “copyright” technologies, artists will make their money as they did in times past—from performances not media sales.

The cat is already out of the bag; people are used to file-sharing; in the old days we copied albums onto cassettes. Plus people do not like being restricted in what they can do with stuff they have bought (e.g wanting to play music on more than one device). New systems or monetization will be developed to enable flexible access to material.

It's not in nature of systems to become more restrictive. Copyright will only get looser, with maybe fee structures shifting to pay authors more up front. Copyright TRACKING, however, will improve.

DRM will never work. Digital media will cause new compensation methods to be invented to compensate for this.  There has never, ever been any example of media which was not copied, stolen, or forged.

The non-hierarchical, flattened architecture of the Internet will continue to interfere with traditional copyright law and, despite the  power and money of the information giants, grassroots, bottom-up technologies and systems will prevail.

DRM has gotten such a black eye with legitimate purchasers of music MP3s that public resistance to DRM will increase. While think tanks and groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation continue to put forth arguments against DRM on the basis of principles of freedom and theories about innovation, the impetus for public dissatisfaction with DRM will be simply that people will want to be able to enjoy their music and movies using whatever platform they choose, without technological hurdles being placed in their way. The resulting economic force in the entertainment market will engender a new paradigm for handling copyright and other intellectual property issues. I do not have the foresight to predict what that new paradigm will be.

Content producers will actively seek alternative distribution channels where they directly control access and compensation. Now that production and distribution costs are close to zero, there’s no reason to give old-style media companies a slice of the action. Why give iTunes a piece of the cut when music could be posted either at a vanity URL or on a music-style site like MySpace that doesn't have much in the way of carrying overhead?

The DRM issue is simply not so black and white. Intelligent evangelists and policy makers like Lawrence Lessig are helping to establish policies that afford protection to IP owners while not limited the ability of individuals to creatively re-purpose or manipulate existing content to create new content.

With some of the larger corporations like EMI offering their products DRM-free, and places like Amazon have a huge DRM-free library, I believe the success they see will influence others to move in similar directions.

ISPs will be privately owned/politically owned (in some countries) and controlling content, and not being controlled by copyright. And I'm sorry to say that ownership will control content.