September 10, 2002

Department of Commerce sets up DRM meeting with consumer groups

-By Grant Gross -

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Technology Administration is making good on its promise to host a consumer-focused meeting on digital rights management.
The Technology Administration will host a private meeting for about 15 consumer advocates September 17, after a group of Free Software and fair use activists protested at a big tech and big Hollywood dominated DRM meeting in mid-July. Most of the protesters weren't allowed to comment on the record during that meeting; instead, they sometimes shouted comments from the back of the room.

A transcript of the July DRM workshop, minus most of the off-mike comments is available here.

A spokeswoman for the Technology Administration said all consumer advocates who expressed interest in the follow-up meeting were invited to attend. Officials chose to keep the meeting small and private, she said, to give all the groups a chance to respond.

Jay Sulzberger, a Linux advocate and one of the protesters at the July meeting, says this formal invitation is important for consumer rights advocates to make their case in person.

"This time, owners of computers will be heard," he said. "This time, makers and users of the 'Net will be heard."

Sulzberger says he'd also like to see public meetings "at which owners and
makers are at the table."

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