Sun President Jonathan Schwartz announced a new open-source standard for digital rights management during a speech here in Aspen, Co. last night.
In an interesting aside, Schwartz said that he believed the federal government should be involved in DRM standards. He used the example of pre-Civil War railroads in the United States, saying that a shipment from New York to Washington, D.C. might have to switch rail lines because of the lack of rail-gauge standards.
That raised some eyebrows in the audience. One attendee from a large media company told me afterwards, with just a hint of bitterness, that such a call for government involvement in DRM sounded a little like the Hollings bill from a few years ago -- which was soundly panned and failed without the dignity of a floor vote.
On Monday, Progress and Freedom Foundation president Ray Gifford replied to Schwartz: "One place I affirmatively disagree is where he said he saw a role for government in standards-setting."
He added: "If you want to have government in the middle of a standards-setting process, you set yourself up for failure. Look at digital television. Q.E.D. Private standards-setting bodies seem to be working pretty well."