DRM is one of those fascinating areas where we really haven't explored the implications of our decisions.  I have seen a lot of complaints about Napster's requiring you to be a mamber of their service in order to continue to listen to music that you downloaded under their subscription.  So, your license is somewhat transient, even though it feels like you're buying the music. 

This working document from the European Union is another great example of that.  This working team feels that "digital watermarking" -- the process of putting a unique identifier into a file so that you can track who downloaded it and where it came from -- could be somehow be used to obtain personally identifiable information (PII) and combine it with music listening habits to somehow use the resultant info for nefarious marketing purposes.

Quote:  "...where information is exchanged over the internet, more and more digital watermarks tags are being used to track users and their preferences - for example, when a music track is purchased online, the purchaser has to enter their account information and unique identifier. "

What isn't clear to me is how they think that this will happen, and why the existing laws aren't good enough.  Something has to read the tag and then somehow report that info (and anything else it can vacuum up) back to another agency.  What is that "something"?  Is it a media player?  The operating system?  Presumably the creator of that software is already covered by the EU's Data Protection Directive.  Perhaps it is spyware... but if there is spyware on my PC looking at the metadata within individual files it already has access to a large amount of PII about me.

Sorry, I don't buy it.  Yes, the authors are correct in saying that watermarking files is propagating PII, but any chance to read it will happen in a space that already has access to a lot (probably far too much) PII.  I really need to worry about more substantive issues, and so should they.

Digital rights management 'could threaten privacy' - silicon.com