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Languages issues by Russell McOrmond

There are many misconceptions about terms such as Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Technical Protection Measures (TPMs), which are used to mean different things by different people. Many of the beliefs about DRM and TPMs are based in science fiction, and not science. I try to avoid using these terms to avoid confusion.

Technical people talk about technologies, such as cryptography, that can be used to protect the authenticity, integrity, and privacy of information, as well as ensure that only authorized access to computers and data are possible. Cryptographic theory documents why cryptography, the strongest of the technical measures, can not be used effectively to stop copyright infringement. There is no way to use this technology in the situation where the intended recipient of an encrypted message and the attacker are the same person.

Two important policy questions need to be asked about the use of these technologies: Who is deciding what is "authorized", and is the owner "authorized" to access and control their own hardware? We should not be enacting laws that allege to protect copyright at the expense of tangible property rights.

In any policy analysis we must separate the 4 possible owners involved in digital communications technology: content, media, hardware, software. This is required to ensure that the policy does not reduce the rights of one owner in order to allegedly protect the rights of another.

See: Protecting property rights in a digital world


© Russell McOrmond. This article is licensed by Russell McOrmond under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license, confirmed by Denver Gingerich. The original article can be found on the CLUE web site.

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