Following several conversations with senior executives from several different companies, I've come away from the CES show thinking that the next generation of DRM has arrived. The outlines of DRM 3.0 have been clear for the past several months, but two themes emerged from my various discussions.
The first is that despite the apparent death of DRM in the music world, rights management is being reinvented as network layer and backend sets of processes and services. Network providers will increasingly play traffic cops and apply rules such as "don't allow transmission of the copyrighted material" across our network. Similar functions are being developed / applied in the User Generated Content world (UGC).
The other theme is that metadata-literally data about data--will be increasingly valuable and is already the basis for several content management services. Vendors such as GraceNote are using fingerprinting and watermarking combined with proprietary metadata databases to create slick applications that identify the components of UGC content on the fly (of course, all demos at tradeshows are slick; the question remains how these techniques work in the real world.) The identified content and associated metadata can then be the basis for reporting to content owners how their properties are being used and can be associated with rules in the backend.
If the first generation of DRM was simple copy / don't copy and content metering applications, and if the second generation is client side rule application, DRM 3.0 will be much more a server side rule generation and enforcement set of techniques.
More on DRM 3.0 in coming days.