The Present and Future of Digital Rights Management - Musings on Emerging Legal Problems

Posted: 8 Dec 2003


This article presents a roadmap of emerging legal problems in the area of Digital Rights Management (DRM). It argues against adopting fundamentalist viewpoints in the DRM policy debate. In particular, DRM technology is much more flexible than many DRM critics acknowledge. The article covers various problems that are less frequently discussed in legal and policy circles. It analyzes the relationship between DRM, fair use, and innovation, using rights locker architectures, dynamic DRM systems, the Creative Commons project, DRM technology license agreements, and security research as examples. It addresses the alleged dichotomy between DRM and copyright levy systems as well as the implications of DRM for privacy protection. By analyzing various technology platforms, it describes the implications DRM has for competition in platform markets as well as in complementary aftermarkets. Finally, the article assesses recent efforts to standardize DRM technology, both by the private sector (in particular TCPA/TCG and Palladium/NGSCB), and by the legislature.

Keywords: digital rights management, trusted computing, fair use, technology platforms, Creative Commons, rights locker architecture, rights expression languages, technology license agreements, levy systems, privacy, reverse engineering, DMCA, standardization

Suggested Citation

Bechtold, Stefan, The Present and Future of Digital Rights Management - Musings on Emerging Legal Problems. Available at SSRN:

Stefan Bechtold (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich ( email )

IFW E 47.2
Zurich, 8092
+41-44-632-2670 (Phone)


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