Digital Rights Management: Devaluing content and criminalising consumers in the war to control end user piracy.

The following article was researched and written over the last three months of my undergraduate BA in Internet Communications through Curtin University. It was presented with a literature review that can also be found here.

My Research looked at the qualifying factors for the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) in the war against end user piracy.  While some publishers of digital products including Tor Books have reported no increase in end user piracy since removing all embedded DRM from their stock in the last 12 months, others such as Electronic Arts have reported no decrease of unauthorised product in the market since rolling out new anti-piracy technology.  As the arts, entertainment and cultural industries navigate their way through the current transitional period of Intellectual Property Rights Management, many consumers have expressed confusion and frustration over the legal frameworks that govern the use of digital goods, and the technologies that protect them. While the removal of embedded anti-piracy technologies can leave digital product open to end user piracy, the implementation of DRM effectively wages war on paying customers. Before any DRM can be presumed a success there must first be evidence of a return on investment and a notable decrease in piracy.  Without assessing the economics of piracy compared to the financial cost of implementing restrictive anti-piracy technologies, those that implement DRM will continue to devalue their product and force consumers to seek unrestricted alternatives.

If any of that sounds remotely interesting to you, I would suggest a good cup of coffee, glass of wine or bottle of craft beer for the rest of the journey.

As always comments, feedback and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated.

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The current state of DRM; a literature review.

The following Literature Review is a accumulative update of the major ideas, concepts and accepted statistical data surrounding the state of Digital Rights Management (DRM) and its effectiveness for protecting the Intellectual Property (IP) online. By bringing together academic research, industry data and contrasting arguments regarding the use of DRM in the distribution of digital products, this document hopes to bring the reader up to speed with the current contributions to the DRM debate and the laws and economics that surround and inform it.

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Fair participation; why copyright laws don’t work.

Traditional applications of copyright are becoming unworkable in the contemporary media environment.

As our culture moves from a mass media environment into a participatory system of media consumption, traditional applications of copyright have become unworkable (Regner, 2010 p1). Publishers and broadcasters who once controlled the spaces their product was consumed, now face an online environment where media is increasingly utilised in spaces controlled by the audience (Bowery, 2002 ). Because of this trend, copyright law must evolve to remain relevant and ultimately protect the rights of content creators, media producers and corporate entities whose business model is based on the profitable distribution of media. This essay will argue that traditional copyright law fails to account for the economies of sharing (Lessig, 2004 p56) and the anthropological nature of human desire to use the tools available, to communicate and create, as an expression of their culture (Wikstorm, 2010 p2).

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Filter the internet: Routing around our moral obligation.

If individuals retain a moral obligation to filter the inappropriate material accessible to children online in the same way they have done for off line material, society as a whole could achieve what legislation has failed to do; control what our children see and post online. If this new moral paradigm is achieved we can provide safe environments for our children online without the need for government intervention and tight legislative controls. For this to occur though, we must first assess the data surrounding our fears and desires for control of online environments, and seek a better accord of how the internet acts as intermediary for offline behaviors.  This essay will focus on the social desire to filter pornography and other material deemed inappropriate for children, because child protection issues are often the point of convergence between freedom, as promoted by the anti-censorship movement, and of the control trumpeted as necessary by the pro-filter lobby.

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The new neighborhood

This essay will argue that whilst the wikipedia entry for Virtual Community answers the question of ‘when’ and ‘how’ virtual communities are formed, it lacks information regarding why virtual communities have become part of our everyday lives. As the following will show; this is the most important aspect for sociologists who wish to focus on the difference between traditional communities that occupy physical spaces, or neighborhoods, and the online communities that transcend the tyranny of physical space, location and time.

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Piracy: it’s not the problem, it’s the answer.

Online communities who use peer-to-peer and Web 2.0 technologies to interact with the digital music produced by major recording labels, are often blamed for the industries’ suffering profitability. This paper will argue that at a time when the industry is struggling to evolve its business model to keep up with the trends of consumers, members of virtual communities using Web 2.0 technologies to discuss, share, and remix digital music with an aim of gaining social capital, have in fact revealed a new method to promote and distribute recorded music. This is a model that should be adopted by the greater recorded music industry for it to thrive, despite the threat to profits posed by any infringement of copyright. The following will define social capital, discuss why people share music and offer examples of artists who use community-based consumer experiences to their advantage.

 

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The new digital

The digitization of music and its convergence with the participatory culture online has led to a total shift in the way we interact with, and consume music in our everyday lives. Due to this evolving convergence of digital music and broad access to relatively inexpensive networked device technology, any one can now create, market, discover, store and playback music via the internet. With a focus on the dissemination of digital music online and the reception of fans and major record labels to a new digital distribution model, this essay will argue that music as a medium was perfectly suited for online distribution, ultimately became a major force for activating participation on the internet and still remains a profitable product in an environment of peer-to-peer music sharing.

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Private and public writing in a social media environment

How has the division between public and private writing been influenced by the rise of social media?

 

With the increasing use of social media to disseminate private writing, the industry behind public communication of the written word has been decentralized (Anderson, 2009). Social media delivers a platform where subjective private writing takes on mass media like qualities usually reserved for objective material produced for profit and blurs the line between the audience and producer (Lüders, 2008) . In this social media environment, readers have become writers (Walker, 2008) and corporations once restricted to mass media messages are able to communicate with their customers in seemingly personal environments (Aziza, 2010).

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The grudge match. ANT vs SCOT

The following essay will discuss the relationship between technology and society with a focus on Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and the theory of Social Construction of Technology (SCOT). To better understand this relationship, the essay will center on the interactions that occur between the two entities. It will argue that although ANT and SCOT theory share a similar hypothesis, the strength and weaknesses of each theory can be found in the different way each conceptualises the interaction between technology and society.

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Online collaboration; what’s in it for me?

Individuals’ motivations define group collaborations. This essay will argue that motivation is what drives users to collaborate online, and ultimately decides the type of community they choose to collaborate with. With a focus on the concept of Communities of Practice (CoP), this paper will explore the reasons why different forms of online collaboration and organisation appear to be similar in nature, but are ultimately divergent.

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Scaling the walls of personalised curation

July 20, 2011

Curation is the art of telling a story. As soon as a piece of content attracts a title, comment or reference to another work, it has been curated (Shott, 1996). This essay will argue that online, curation is too often used as a tool of expedient initiation and personalisation, which leads to data lockout, and walled information ecologies that are hard to navigate. This paper will discuss the pitfalls of allowing the content we interact with, produce and consume to be curated for us, rather than curating it for ourselves.

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The internet, and the perception of free.

August 30, 2012

Capitalism controls the internet, although to what degree the internet is free to an individual user depends on their perspective, the tools used for access and how they spend their time online. This essay will question the real cost of accessing the internet, and the economy surrounding our choices when it comes using it. It will argue that the real value of e commerce, and the individual cost to internet users, cannot be measured only in a monetary from, but by the value generated by engaged parties within the synergistic knowledge, gift and attention economies found in many online environments.

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Scaling the walls of personalised curation

Curation is the art of telling a story.  As soon as a piece of content attracts a title, comment or reference to another work, it has been curated (Shott, 1996). This essay will argue that online, curation is too often used as a tool of expedient initiation and personalisation, which leads to data lockout, and walled information ecologies that are hard to navigate. This paper will discuss the pitfalls of allowing the content we interact with, produce and consume to be curated for us, rather than curating it for ourselves.

Continue reading Scaling the walls of personalised curation