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DRM, Interoperability and eInnovation

November 27, 2007

DRM, or digital rights management, refers to software and hardware based restrictions placed on creative material which aims at protecting a copyright holder’s interest in limiting access to the material. DRM determines where and how you can access a digital product and what modifications, if any, you can make to the content. DRM can be viewed as conflicting with systems interoperability—that is, the ability or lack of ability for a user to play a song downloaded on Itunes on her Zune. (More after the jump).

Also, because DRM restrictions can exceed uses of copyrighted material that would normally be protected by Section 107 fair use protection, innovation is also inhibited. Urs Gasser and John Palfrey, from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard have produced an exhaustive study, published in November 2007, which analyses these issues in terms of law and technology. Their report is entitled “DRM-protected Music Interoperability and eInnovation.” They conclude “that the best way to determine the optimal level of interoperability and means of accomplishing it is to rely upon economic-based assessments on a case-by-case basis.”