Negative effects of the DMCA in the US

Interesting statistics from Copyright and Technology Blog :

[...] academic research into DRM and other rights technologies in the United States has diminished to virtually nil.

(For example, a search of IEEE shows that of all digital rights-related research papers published from 2008 to the present, 40% were from China, 27% were from the rest of Asia, 20% were from Europe, and less than 4% were from the United States. Spain by itself had more activity than the US.)

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Please don't put words in my mouth

Thanks for linking to my story in Copyright and Technology. But I never made a connection between the lack of rights technologies R&D output in the US and the DMCA.

First of all, I compiled R&D output for all rights-related technologies, not just DRM or those covered under anticircumvention laws like DMCA 1201a. Secondly, although I am (also) not a fan of DMCA 1201, the relationship between it and the imbalance of economic incentives in rights technologies is a bit tenuous.

You have to parse the economic incentives carefully. DMCA 1201 is flawed because (perhaps among other reasons) it robs DRM technology vendors of incentive to make the technology secure. As long as it's "good enough", content owners will accept a DRM technology, in part because they have DMCA 1201 as a backstop if it's hacked. But the incentives to make the technology interoperable and user-friendly are not really affected by DMCA. Instead they are affected by the underlying economics: device makers and service providers are forced to pay for the technology, and their incentive is to provide technologies that lock users in to their platforms while offering "good enough" security. The latter is where DMCA comes in, but it's only a secondary incentive.

By the way: if you see my rights technologies R&D Index ( you will notice that Canada has a healthy R&D output - better than the United States relative to overall R&D.

Bill Rosenblatt
GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies
250 West 57th Street, Suite 2017
New York, NY 10107
+1 212 956 1045
Skype: billrosenblatt
Editor, Copyright and Technology (