Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Monday, March 19, 2007

Boalt Hall Conference on Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Posted by Shubha Ghosh

I participated in a wonderful conference at Boalt Hall from March 9-10 on the current status and future of Digital Rights Management, a technological means to prevent the copying and distribution of digital content.   DRM has raised important issues in intellectual property (because of the passage of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in 1998 that legally protects digital rights management) and in antitrust (because of the potential misuse of technological platforms to limit entry and competition).  The Boalt Hall Conference focused largely on consumer and competition issues raised by DRM, and there was much discussion scattered throughout the conference on Apple and the iPod technology, especially France's investigation into Apple's use of Fairplay to potentially limit competition through tying the distribution of songs to the hardware medium.  All the panels were superb, but particularly noteworthy were the panels (1) on the legal liability of SONY BMG for its software root kit that potentially harmed PC's and downloaded software and spyware without user notification and (2) on the need for legislation to mandate notice on DRM technologies.

I include here the keynote address (Download Rosch.pdf ) by FTC Commissioner Rosch  on the consumer protection and antitrust concerns raised by DRM.  His talk raised the prospect of Apple iPod potentially creating an application barrier to entry as in Microsoft.   I also include slides (Download Bechtold.pdf) of an excellent presentation by Stefan Bechtold of the Max Planck Institute on the role of competition law in regualting DRM.

The conference website which includes other materials can be linked here. 

Congratulations to Professor Pam Samuelson and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology for such a terrific event.

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