Designed to 'Effectively Frustrate': Copyright, Technology, and the Agency of Users

New Media & Society, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 651-669, August 2006

17 Pages Posted: 24 May 2008

See all articles by Tarleton Gillespie

Tarleton Gillespie

Microsoft Research, New England; Cornell University - Department of Communication

Abstract

Recently, the major U.S. music and movie companies have pursued a dramatic renovation in their approach to copyright enforcement. This shift, from the 'code' of law to the 'code' of software, looks to technologies themselves to regulate or make unavailable those uses of content traditionally handled through law. Critics worry about the 'compliance' rules built into such systems: design mandates for manufacturers indicating what users can and cannot do under particular conditions. But these are accompanied by a second set of limitations: 'robustness' rules. Robustness rules obligate manufacturers to build devices such that they prevent tinkering - not only must the technology regulate its users, it must be inscrutable to them. I examine this aspect of technical copyright regulation, looking particularly at the CSS encryption system for DVDs and the recent 'broadcast flag' proposed for digital television. In the name of preventing piracy, these arrangements threaten to undermine users' sense of agency with their own technologies.

Keywords: broadcast flag, copyright, CSS, DRM, law, robustness, technology, open source, users

Suggested Citation

Gillespie, Tarleton and Gillespie, Tarleton, Designed to 'Effectively Frustrate': Copyright, Technology, and the Agency of Users. New Media & Society, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 651-669, August 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1134427

Tarleton Gillespie (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Communication ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

Microsoft Research, New England ( email )

One Memorial Drive, 14th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
69
Abstract Views
632
rank
422,645
PlumX Metrics