Digital Rights Management: the Problem of Expanding Ownership Rights
Digital Rights Management: the Problem of Expanding Ownership Rights is a new book by Christopher May, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Lancaster (that’s up towards the top left-hand corner of England, if you’ve just invaded from the South, or straight ahead if you've beached your longboats on the North East coast). It was published around the turn of the year by Chandos.
What the publisher says:
This book examines the social context of new digital rights management (DRM) technologies in a lively and accessible style. It sets out the scope of DRM in nontechnical terms and then explores the shifts that DRM has produced within the regime of protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs). Focusing on the social norms around the protection of IPRs, it examines the music industry and software development sector to ask whether the protections established by DRM are legitimate and socially beneficial. Using these key examples to establish a more general argument, the book’s central conclusion is that rather than merely re-establishing threatened rights, the development of DRM has extended the rights of intellectual property owners, and that such an extension violates previous carefully balanced political compromises as regards the maintenance of the public domain.
What the IPKat says: Professor May’s thesis is one that has the IPKat pulling in both directions. One the one hand the Kat concedes the vulnerability of the digitally managed works in the absence of DRMs. On the other, he too can see the potential for manipulation and exploitation - both commercial and political - that DRM possesses. He would dearly like to see DRM sensitively regulated for the benefit of consumers, performers, writers and composers as well as those dreadful, cynical corporate behemoths in which, er, the IPKat suspects his pension fund is probably invested …
Bibliographic details. Paperback ISBN: 1-84334-124-7; £39.95. Hardback ISBN: 1-84334-185-9 £57. 200 or so pages. Rupture factor: none. Apoplexy factor: medium, if you are a believer that DRM is the acceptable side of IP management; high, if you actually think it’s a good idea for people in the UK to pay more for their downloads than folk back in the US of A.