Inside RISKS: DRM and Public Policy

Intellectual Property and Copyright and Trademark

Article Snapshot


Edward Felten


Communications of the ACM, Volume 48, Number 7, p. 112, 2005


This paper sets out ground rules for technology designed to help protect copyrighted works.

Policy Relevance

Digital rights management (DRM) technology should be supervised by policymakers to protect consumers.

Main Points

  • DRM, or digital rights management, uses technology to block or hinder unauthorized copying.

  • DRM should not be used to block legal uses of a created work, such as fair use or research.
    • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) should be changed to protect researchers.

  • DRM should not be used to disadvantage consumers or to collection information about consumers without informed consent.

  • DRM should not be used to prevent competition, as when one firm used DRM to stop its garage door openers from working with devices made by competitors.

  • Policymakers should oversee and amend DRM systems to protect consumers if needed.

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