Digital Lockup

The publishing industry is trying to develop technologies that will prevent copyright being infringed. This is challenging, but (with some qualifications) technically feasible. Outlines of the various passive and active protection technologies are provided in a paper by Roger Clarke and Stephen Nees.[1] Clarke argued in the paper in early 2001 that there was a likelihood of a consumer backlash against the Digital Rights Management movement.

One might ask whether it is appropriate for a national government to impose measures normally used for criminal matters in relation to what has always been a civil wrong. On the other hand, such measures have already been instituted in respect of some forms of copyright breach by at least the U.S. Digital Millennium Act and Australian copyright amendment legislation. [2]

[1] Clarke, Roger. File-Discovery and File-Sharing Technologies (aka Peer-to-Peer or P2P):

MP3, Napster and Friends, and Their Impact on E-Publishing of Music, and Other Digital Objects accessed 2 April 2006 Content industries are in the process of developing a variety if such technologies under the generic term ‘Digital Rights Management’, and the music industry association refers to the particular technology that they are trying to invent as the Strategic Digital Music Initiative (SDMI).

These involve attempts to significantly extend the set of rights that are embodied in copyright law. They are also likely to be highly invasive of content consumers’ privacy.

[2] Ibid. Invention is one challenge, but implementation of such technologies is a different challenge again. New devices would protect new media from being copied; but there would have to be transitional arrangements to cope with the wide array and vast volume of existing media and existing player technology. The industry has in mind to enlist the assistance of legislatures to achieve its ends, and has a track record of successfully doing so. The legislative and enforcement measures that the publishing industry would need comprise it would need to be illegal to manufacture, offer for sale, sell or acquire a device that is designed to provide access to the content unless – it has the protection mechanism embedded in it;

– it would need to be illegal to devise, publish, manufacture, offer to sell, sell or acquire a countermeasure or circumvention technology, or  a device containing a countermeasure or circumvention technology;

– each country would need to assign resources to the investigation and prosecution of breaches of those laws.

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Filed under Digitising works, Intellectual Property Law

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