As noted, the Federal Trade Commission will hold a public hearing in Seattle on DRM and it's impact on consumers. More than 800 submissions were received, including several from various vendors and trade associations. Among the latter submitting written comments from the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a trade association dedicated to open markets, open systems, and open networks.
Among the arguments presented by the CCIA is that legal restrictions on reverse engineering under the Digital Millenium Copy Right Act (DMCA) are too severe and are being used by some vendors to place restrictions on competitors and to prevent interoperability.
There seems to be no question, for example, that Apple's earlier use of DRM has locked out competitors in the music store and music device businesses. That said, interoperability among DRM systems is not merely a question of reverse engineering and interface standards. Rather, interoperability, especially among dissimilar DRM systems and devices, is a very difficult problem to solve.
Let me state my working definition of DRM: the association of rules govern use and use consequences with content and the enforcement of those rules at a distance in time and space. Since DRM is about rules and not about encryption and security per se, interoperable DRM systems must be capable of enforcing the same rules, or if not, abiding by rules that say what to do in the event that the primary rule set cannot be enforced.
Interoperability among dissimilar systems is such a difficult problem that there are a couple of consortium efforts to create a standard for interoperable DRM. A few industry groups have been organized to work on interoperability, including the Coral Consortium, the Digital Media Project (DMPF), and the Open Mobile Alliance.