Integrating Law and Economics
Chapter 3: Digital Rights Management, Licensing and Privacy
3.1 INTRODUCTION Digital rights management (DRM) entails the operation of a control system that can monitor, regulate and price each subsequent use of a digital file that contains media content or software. Electronic access can be administered through rendering software tied to a protected work, and can be complemented with encryption, digital signatures, watermarking or hardware programming. Depending on the price that a user pays, owners of protected works may limit use by number of plays, duration of access, temporary or partial uses, and the number and location of computers on which the file may be accessed. Digital rights management and access control is legally different from copyright, which protects the underlying work from unauthorized reproduction, distribution, derivation, public performance or display.1 Copyright protection is principally limited by term duration,2 fair use,3 the first sale doctrine,4 the idea–expression dichotomy,5 and exemptions for libraries,6 classrooms and distance learning,7 and the blind and the handicapped.8 In contrast, access protection entails technological procedures that shield a copyrighted work from the attempt to copy. Access protection then is technology protection, akin to measures that disallow ‘black boxes’ to decode scrambled cable signals or devices that circumvent the Serial Copy Management System.9 As such, access protection might not be subject to the same legal limitations and user rights now established in traditional copyright. The case for legal access protection was set forth initially by the Clinton Administration’s White Paper, Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure, which argued...
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