A consumer-friendly approach to digital-rights management (DRM) is essential if copyright holders are not to alienate customers, says analyst firm GartnerG2.

Gartner said: "DRM standards need to be flexible enough to protect the content, to be replaced when they are hacked and to accommodate changes in consumer demand, and to support the tenets of fair use, which can be disrupted by new technologies.

"The difficulties associated with DRM have been the use of technology to enforce copyright laws and protecting intellectual property at the expense of innovation, either by stifling it or penalizing it."

Harvard Law School Internet expert John Palfrey says that the crisis of digital media "is the most pressing issue in cyberspace".

Gartner also had a warning for artists: "Figure out the legal and contractual issues needed to make your catalogue available online. Beat the file-traders to the punch, or the market for your legitimate works will wither."