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Public Knowledge demystifies digital-rights management

Public Knowledge, an advocacy group for balanced intellectual property law, has published a comprehensive resource that helps simplify the increasingly complex and highly technical issue of digital-rights management.

Digital-rights management (DRM) is the term applied to technologies that prevent you from using a copyrighted digital work beyond the degree to which the copyright owner wishes to allow you to use it. The technologies can be applied to digital movies, television programs, books or music.

The 40-page primer, “What Every Citizen Should Know About DRM, a.k.a. Digital Rights Management,” was written by Mike Godwin, senior technology counsel at Public Knowledge. Godwin is a veteran of Internet law and the author of “Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age” (MIT Press, 2003).

The primer, produced in cooperation with the New America Foundation, has chapters on DRM and its relationship to copyright law; a technical explanation of how DRM works; a discussion whether DRM should be imposed by government; and the potential threats posed by DRM not only to copyrighted content, but also to the technical design of the Internet.

A PDF version of the book is available for download at Hard copies are available for $5. Send e-mail to for details.

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