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Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Stephan Bechtold On Digital Rights Management

Dr. Stephan Bechtold (of the Link Controversy Page mentioned here before) is "a 27-year-old German lawyer who is a Fullbright Fellow at Stanford Law School" [via The Daily Journal], and has written a paper titled "From Copyright to Information Law - Implications Of Digital Rights Management." (link: PDF) The paper examines DRM's tendency to supplant copyright law (since it allows providers to protect "the economic, moral and personal interests" in an author's works without further legal assistance), and posits that if measures are so overprotective as to trample on fair use, laws will develop to limit DRM and clarify fair use principles in the digital environment. Dr. Bechtold thinks "it is far from clear that content providers really need the combination of five different means of protection (technology, contracts, technology licenses, anti-circumvention regulation and copyright law) instead of one (copyright law)," observes that private parties implementing DRM "may or may not honor the interests of third parties and society at large," and concludes "[i]t is the law that has to react to this 'overprivatization' and limit the different means of protection in a DRM system." The paper provides a thoughtful take on the unsettled state of DRM technologies and the current legal framework, with interesting ideas about where things might go from here.

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