Digital Rights Management

is the subject of the latest Intellectual Property Colloquium podcast with Profs. Ed Felten (Princeton) and Randy Picker (Chicago), hosted (as usual) by my UCLA colleague and IP Colloquium founder Doug Licthman. Here's the description:

Ten years ago, the rights and responsibilities associated with copyright protection were largely defined by federal law. Today, while those explicit rules are obviously still important, a meaningful discussion of copyright protection can't help but also include technological protections -- like the encryption technologies that serve to discourage consumers from making unauthorized copies of their DVDs, or the watermarks that to some degree allow copyright holders to detect when their audio or video content shows up without permission on a site like YouTube. These so-called "digital rights management" or DRM technologies are impacting every aspect of the copyright equation. On this edition of the show, we therefore set out to take a comprehensive tour of the technology, law, and strategy of DRM. Guests include Ed Felten from Princeton University and Randy Picker from the University of Chicago.

einhverfr (mail) (www):
Looks like an interesting symposium. I personally am a favor of Doctorow's Law, though....
4.21.2009 6:02pm
I prefer the term "digital restrictions management". DRM software cannot accurately manage the statutory rights of copyright holders; that would involve making a determination of whether a given act of copying is fair use or not, inter alia.
4.21.2009 6:25pm
My main complaint is that DRM* is used to impose restrictions far in excess of what copyright law actually grants the holder. Region locking, for instance, would be categorically illegal under the doctrine of first sale (at least in the US) but the CSS-DRM in the DVD format allows copyright holders to impose by technical fiat what they could not impose by lawful means.

The argument for DRM would be much stronger if copyright holders used it only to protects rights that they actually hold.

* Only in conjunction with anti-circumvention laws like the DMCA, because elementary cryptography will tell you that you can always circumvent any DRM that allows you to view the protected content. I'm not aware of any DRM schemes, including BluRay, that are not compromised and widely available on the internet in open formats.
4.21.2009 7:25pm
Michael L. Slonecker (mail):
For those who may not be familiar with the Intellectual Property Colloquium, I urge each of you to follow the link and listen to the various presentations. The fact CLE is available is a definite plus, but much more importantly the presentations involve the participation of persons who are able to bring the legal issues to "life" is an extremely informative manner. For example, in the DRM presentation Doug speaks at length with Ed Felten from MIT, an individual with an incredible insight and understanding of DRM technologies.

It is noteworthy that the presentations are not the typical caselaw regurgitation associated with the vast majority of CLE programs. They are presented in a manner of benefit to lawyer and layman alike.

I, for one, deeply appreciate the fine work Doug Lichtman has done in putting together these very professional presentations. I am confident that after listening to them many others will feel likewise.
4.21.2009 9:52pm
Cornellian (mail):
Similar to Oren's point, DRM is not about protecting copyright, it's a stealth attempt to eliminate a consumer's right of fair use.
4.21.2009 11:55pm
Oren wrote at 4.21.2009 7:25pm:
The argument for DRM would be much stronger if copyright holders used it only to protects rights that they actually hold.
Aw, c'mon. They just want to pwn you.
4.22.2009 12:33am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I want to hear how DRM stops Piracy. You know... Like in the Gulf of Aden.....
4.22.2009 12:44am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
BTW that was a great talk. I would highly recommend to to all VC readers...
4.22.2009 1:27am
For those of us that aren't auditory learners, is there a transcript?
4.22.2009 11:45am
Michael L. Slonecker (mail):

For those of us that aren't auditory learners, is there a transcript?

Not sure if transcripts are avaiable. You might want to consider contacting Doug Lichtman at the UCLA Law School ( and ask him the question?

It is also worthwhile to note that all of his presentations refer to suggested reading that if read before a presentation give a listener an even better understanding of the various matters being discussed.

All in all, his presentations are in my opinion far and away better than the ubiquitous "lectures" associated with run of the mill CLE courses. Doug's presentations keep me wide awake and interested in what will follow. Ordinary CLE presentations generally present me with an opportunity to catch up on my sleep.
4.22.2009 12:52pm

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