DRM is death and has broken the IP consensus

Very important analysis in this reblogged summary of a talk on what Digital Rights Management has wrought in our culture:


Jennifer Urban and Cory Doctorow spoke in tandem at the December 14 DIY Media seminar. I will post separate entries, although their presentations were closely related.

DRM is broken,” Urban declared, at the beginning of her talk about “Bits will never get harder to copy: the limits of copyright online.” (Apparently, according to a separate report, Bill Gates agrees) The problem, as the graphic below illustrates, is that until DRM started building legal restrictions on the use of cultural products into the hardware used to access those products, the relationship between technological capabilities, laws, and social changes was flexible enough to allow copyright laws to evolve with the times. When radio came along and enabled the broadcast of music that had previously been accessed through live performance or sheet music, the legal remedy of compulsory licensing enabled rights owners to be compensated and for a new medium for musical performance to grow. DRM, together with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which criminalizes circumvention of DRM measures, puts an end to that flexibility by instantiating in technology a social agreement that used to be mediated by courts: “DRM stops the change process” that been evolving since the establishment of copyright laws.

“Fair use,” fundamental to education, scholarship, and the arts, is broken because the rights holder, not a legal process, determines the boundaries, and “DMCA makes breaking DRM to enable fair use illegal.”

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