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DRM: Unnecessary, Expensive, Broken

“Academic criticism of DRM and the entertainment community’s enthusiasm for it are two debates that have run on parallel tracks for some time,” Wendy Seltzer, Law professor at the University of Colorado’s Law School, Berkman fellow, and board member of Tor, told me today.

“Policy makers bow to the entertainment companies without listening to academic concerns.”

One such academic paper is “Digital rights management: Desirable, inevitable, and almost irrelevant,” (available here in .pdf format), a three page screed published in 2007.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) software is designed to make it impossible to copy and share songs, movies, software, and other products which, because they are digital, can be distributed virtually for free.

Not all academic research opposes DRM, Odlyzko said, precisely because DRM is complex. “There are all these nobs to turn, so you can produce lots of PhD theses and conference papers,” he wrote to me in an e-mail.

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