Digital Rights Management: A failure in the developed world, a danger to the developing world


Work data:

Type of work: Communication


Intellectual Property


This paper is part of our ongoing effort to bring some sanity to the blind march toward DRM technologies. These technologies don't work for stopping copyright infringement - their supposed function - yet they've served as an anti-competitive cudgel, a set of shackles on the public's rights in copyright, and a rubric for censoring and even jailing security researchers. EFF is delighted to be able to get this much-needed reality check before policymakers worldwide as they consider the question: 'Which DRM is best for my country?' Our answer: 'DRM will exact a punishing toll on your national interest and yield no benefit at all.' The paper explores the ways that DRM has harmed the developed world, negatively impacting scientific research, speech, innovation, competition, legitimate consumer interests, access by disabled people, archiving and library functions, and distance education. The paper goes on to examine the risks to the developing world in terms of its potential to curtail the public domain, to criminalize free and open source software projects, to enable region-based discrimination, and to lock local artists, authors, and performers into the monopoly pricing of DRM vendors. DRM has no nexus with promoting culture or stopping infringement. The rent it exacts from the nations it colonizes is too dear for anyone to bear. As you will see, the answer to "Which DRM will spur the most development in my nation?" is "None at all."