Jake Goldenfein, 'RAM-Chip' in Claudy Op Den Kamp and Dan Hunter (eds), A History of Intellectual Property in 50 Objects (Cambridge University Press 2019)
6 Pages Posted: 17 May 2019
Date Written: April 17, 2019
Dynamic Random Access Memory, or DRAM, was patented by IBM in 1968 and successfully commercialized by Intel in 1970 with the i1103 chip. Since then, the effects of miniaturized volatile electrical memory on our IP system have been profound. The fact that electronic devices require content to be copied into RAM for the sake of access and use was central to: the evolution of ‘digital copyright’ during the 1980s; arguments over reverse engineering, mod-chips, and software piracy in the 1990s; internet browsing, cable television time-shifting, and internet intermediary liability in the 2000s; and live streaming, cloud computing, software and infrastructure as a service, and the innumerable ways we consume media in current times. In fact, as a concept in copyright doctrine, RAM re-production has become the anchor on which contemporary distribution models depend. The idea that ephemeral copies might be infringing has been fundamental in reconfiguring copyright into a content and service ‘access’ regime. The RAM chip, along with other developments in media and communications technologies, have since transformed how information commodities flow through networks and devices, and how actors are authorized to experience them. RAM thus played a role in turning markets into networks, and buyers and sellers into users and access providers. It shifted the basic units of consumable media, as well as how those units circulate and are consumed. The Intel i1103 was the start of those changes.
Keywords: Copyright, RAM Reproduction, Intellectual Property, Access Regimes
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