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If Piracy is the Problem, is DRM the Answer?

Haber, Stuart; Horne, Bill; Pato, Joe; Sander, Tomas; Tarjan, Robert Endre


Keyword(s): security; content protection; digital rights management; trust; privacy; piracy

Abstract: Piracy of digital content is considered a serious problem by content companies. Digital Rights Management is considered a potential solution to this problem. In this paper we study to what degree DRM can live up to this expectation. We conclude that given the current and foreseeable state of technology the content protection features of DRM are not effective at combating piracy. The key problem is that even if only a small fraction of users are able to get content from a protected form into an unprotected form, then illegitimate distribution networks are likely to make that content available ubiquitously. One possible technological solution to the problem is what we call "draconian DRM," which involves deploying devices that only process managed content. However, we find that such systems face significant, if not insurmountable, obstacles to deployment and we believe that the real solution to the piracy problem is largely non- technical. The most effective way for interested parties to defeat piracy may be to compete with it. Notes: Copyright Springer-Verlag. To be published as a chapter in Digital Rights Management: Technological, Economic, Legal and Political Aspects, ed. Eberhard Becker, Willms Buhse, Dirk Gunnewig, Niels Rump. Springer-Verlag, 2003

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