Monday, April 20, 2009

'Everyone Hates DRM'; podcast explains why, and why they shouldn't

There's a new podcast up at the "Intellectual Property Colloquium," the series of podcasts hosted by UCLA Law School professor Doug Lichtman. The topic: "Everyone Hates DRM."

This podcast features interviews with two leading DRM experts, Princeton computer scientist Ed Felten, and the University of Chicago Law School's Randy Picker. Felten, a prominent DRM critic, describes some of the technical details behind DRM techniques including watermarking and fingerprinting, and highlights some of the main anti-DRM arguments, such as concerns about privacy and computer security. And Felten's arguments are bolstered by exerpts of testimony before the Federal Trade Commission by DRM opponents including EFF's Corynne McSherry and Boalt's Jason Schultz.

Lichtman's interview with Picker focuses on a topic that gets much less attention than it deserves: how DRM enables pro-consumer business models. The discussion of how the Microsoft Xbox gaming console's business model -- artificially low console subsidized by a Microsoft-only games -- is particularly interesting. And Picker takes the public's dislike of DRM head-on: "They hate it, but that doesn't mean anything." Picker explains that much of the "hatred" comes from looking only at the downsides of DRM, but ignoring the benefits: fostering business models that would be either more expensive or nonexistent if not for DRM. Listen to the whole thing.

CLE credit is available in California, Texas, Illinois, Washington, and reciprocating states.

1 comment:

  1. An excellent presentation; typical of the quality of work I have learned to expect from the IP Colloquium.

    I agree that the discussion with Picker makes some largely ignored points that merit serious consideration. Virtually every discussion concerning DRM lapses into an invective laden diatribe with nary a mention of some of the benefits that it provides.


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