The issue of digital rights management (DRM) could stifle the success of the mobile web – by putting the brakes on innovation.
This is one of the conclusions from Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, speaking to the Innovation Forum at the 3GSM World Congress being held in Barcelona this week.
The GSM>3G Newsreel quotes Berners-Lee as saying: "The serendipitous re-use of information happens because when I buy an internet connection, I don't specify the web sites I am going to connect to," he said. "If you buy an internet connection, and you run a web server, then I can connect to your site. I don't find my ISP saying that it wants to be my supplier of music and so it will block access to any site I try to load music from."
Currently, most mobile operators want to apply DRM-based restrictions to their music downloads.
Berners-Lee adds that much of the value of the Internet lies in the unexpected re-use of information.
"People learned that if they went to the trouble of putting something on the web for some reason, that others would benefit later in ways they never anticipated. The experience of surfing the web, which blew some of the early users away for days and nights, was of discovering things you never knew existed."
He also criticised the use of patents more generally, such as the failed P3P privacy protocol project: "They claimed to have a patent on something to do with information being communicated and stored and affecting future communication. This has a devastating effect. Anyone working for a large company was told by lawyers never to read anything to do with the work," the GSM>3G Newsreel reports.