A long and deep study of user behaviour in the UK by a Cambridge prof confirms that when an honest person tries to do something legal that is blocked by Digital Rights Management technology, it encourages the person to start downloading infringing copies for free from the net, since these copies are all DRM-free.
Akester's new paper, "Technological accommodation of conflicts between freedom of expression and DRM: the first empirical assessment," does pretty much what its title implies. Akester spent the last few years interviewing dozens of lecturers, end users, government officials, rightsholders, and DRM developers to find how DRM and anticircumvention laws affected actual use...
Landmark study: DRM truly does make pirates out of us all
Everybody that Akester spoke with had some problem of their own. Film lecturers, who are allowed to put together clip compilations under UK law, still can't (legally) bypass the CSS encryption on DVDs.
Lecturers who don't know how to bypass the DRM are faced with an unappealing choice: those "unable to extract a clip from a commercial DVD lodged in their library collection are forced to tailor the content of their lectures to the VHS materials at their disposal. They contend that this happens frequently, given that most commercial DVDs are DRM protected."
During the Napster wars, Bruce Schneier famously quipped, "Making bits harder to copy is like making water less wet."
For months, the European Parliament has been negotiating over a new copyright rule, with rightsholder organizations demanding that some online services implement censoring filters that prevent anyone from uploading text, sounds or images if they have been claimed by a copyright holder.
John Sulston has died at the age of 75; I worked with him through the Wellcome Sanger institute, where he undertook the Human Genome Project, where a fully sequenced human genome was decoded and published as open-access science that anyone could study and use.
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