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Abstract & Download
Abstract & Download

The Imperfect is the Enemy of the Good: Anticircumvention Versus Open Innovation

Wendy Seltzer, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 25, 2010

Digital Rights Management, law-backed technological control of usage  of copyrighted works, is clearly imperfect: It often fails to stop  piracy and frequently blocks non-infringing uses. Yet the drive to  correct these imperfections masks a deeper conflict, between the DRM  system of anticircumvention and open development in the entire  surrounding media environment. This conflict, at the heart of the DRM  schema, will only deepen, even if other aspects of DRM can be  improved. This paper takes a systemic look at the legal, technical,  and business environment of DRM to highlight this openness conflict
and its effects.

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In the full cost-benefit analysis of anticircumvention, the loss to  open innovation would outweigh the gains from this imperfect mechanism  of copyright enforcement. Treating code literally as law leaves the law with too many harmful side effects.

Phi Beta Iota: The only system that is truly closed and must be regarded as closed for planning, programming, and budgeting purposes, is the Whole Earth.  All other sub-systems, with a tiny handful of exceptions, must be OPEN so as to optimize the cultural, economic, and social value of the feed-back loops among systems we  barely comprehend, much less control.