From Copyright to Information Law – Implications of Digital Rights Management

  • Stefan Bechtold
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2320)


Digital Rights Management (DRM) promises to enable a secure electronic marketplace where content providers can be remunerated for the use of their digital content. In the last few years, countless research efforts have been devoted to DRM technologies. However, DRM systems are not only technological phenomena: they pose complex legal, business, organizational and economic problems. This article tries to show that from a lawyer’s perspective some of the innovativeness and potential of DRM can only be understood when one looks at it from a multidisciplinary viewpoint. The article gives an overview of the various ways by which digital content is protected in a DRM system. The intertwining protection by technology, contracts, technology licenses and anti-circumvention regulations could lead to a new “property right” making copyright protection obsolete. However, there is a danger of over-protection: questions of fair use and other limitations to traditional copyright law have to be addressed. If competition is not able to solve this tension between the interests of content providers and the interests of users or the society at large - which seems to be doubtful at least - it is the law that has to provide a solution. The legislators in the U.S. and Europe use different approaches to address this problem. By looking at DRM in this way, several patterns can be observed which are characteristic of many areas of Internet law.


Digital Content Content Provider Copyright Protection Digital Right Management Technology License 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bechtold, Stefan: Vom Urheberzum Informationsrecht — Implikationen des Digital Rights Management, Munich 2002Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society. Official Journal of the European Communities L 167, June 22, 2001, pp. 10–19Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Directive 98/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 1998 on the legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access. Official Journal of the European CommunitiesL 320, November 28, 1998, pp. 54–57Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Universal Music Group/InterTrust Technologies Corporation: Bluematter End User License Agreement, (visited Dec. 11, 2001)
  5. 5.
    ProCD, Inc. v. Zeidenberg, 86 F.3d 1447-1455 (7th Cir. 1996)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    UCITA online, (visited Dec. 11, 2001)
  7. 7.
    Federal Communications Commission: In re Implementation of Section 304 of Telecommunications Act of 1996,15 F.C.C.R. 18,199 (Sep. 18, 2000)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    OpenCable Initiative, (visited Dec. 11, 2001)
  9. 9.
    Landes, William M./Posner, Richard A.: An Economic Analysis of Copyright Law, 18 Journal of Legal Studies 325–363 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Pindyck, Robert S./Rubinfeld, Daniel L.: Microeconomics, 5th edition, Upper Saddle River 2001Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Posner, Richard A.: Economic Analysis of Law, 5th edition, New York 1998Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Fisher, William W.: Property and Contract on the Internet, 73 Chicago-Kent Law Review 1203–1256 (1998)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Boyle, James: Cruel, Mean, or Lavish? Economic Analysis, Price Discrimination and Digital Intellectual Property, 53 Vanderbilt Law Review 2007–2039 (2000)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gordon, Wendy J.: Intellectual Property as Price Discrimination: Implications for Contract, 73 Chicago-Kent Law Review 1367–1390 (1998)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Netanel, Neil Weinstock: Copyright and a Democratic Civil Society, 106 Yale Law Journal 283–387 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Merges, Robert P.: The End of Friction? Property Rights and Contract in the “Newtonian” World of On-Line Commerce, 12 Berkeley Technology Law Journal 115–136(1997)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lemley, Mark A.: The Economics of Improvement in Intellectual Property Law, 75 Texas Law Review 989–1084 (1997)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lessig, Lawrence: Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, New York 1999Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Burk, Dan L./Cohen, Julie E.: Fair Use Infrastructure for Copyright Management Systems, 2000, (visited Dec. 11, 2001)
  20. 20.
    Directive 97/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 1997 amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities. Official Journal of the European Communities L 202, July 30, 1997, pp. 60–71Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Samuelson, Pamela: Intellectual Property and the Digital Economy: Why the Anti-Circumvention Regulations Need to Be Revised, 14 Berkeley Technology Law Journal 504–566 (1999)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Stefik, Mark: The Internet Edge. Social, Legal, and Technological Challenges for a Networked World, Cambridge 1999Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Bechtold
    • 1
  1. 1.Stanford Law SchoolStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations