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March 15, 2005

How digital rights management will harm the developing world

India-bound Michael Coburn draws my attention to a paper by Cory Doctorow on how Digital Rights Management will affect the developing world. The piece is written for an International Telecommunications Union report aimed at telecoms regulators in national governments around the world; they are trying to figure out which DRM to adopt. Doctorow questions the "DRM hypothesis" that the public is dishonest, and will do dishonest things with cultural material if given the chance. Besides, he says, DRM won't work: 'there has never been a single piece of DRM-restricted media that can't be downloaded from the Internet today. In more than a decade of extensive use, DRM has never once accomplished its goal'.My own view is that anything that restricts the free flow of communication is obnxious in and of itself - but that the value of protected - and therefore frozen - content, is modest relative to live contact between humans, which is far more important. But we need to be vigilant on both counts.

Posted by John Thackara at March 15, 2005 10:58 AM


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