by Jeremiah Clifton
In writing this article, I attempted to present the backstory and facts pertaining to Digital Rights Management (DRM) in a fair and evenhanded method, so a person interested in a more in-depth look would have a decent overall foundation from which to start, divorced from most of the opinions of DRM. I have focused on the legal aspects of DRM and hinted at some of the social effects; however, I am not a lawyer or a sociologist. I am a multimedia professional, dealing almost exclusively in digital media, and a graduate student in digital media studies. Other professionals and students in digital media comprise the intended audience.
In the research and writing, I tried not to use anything that made use of DRM, but found this more difficult than anticipated because the entirety of research, writing and publishing was done in the digital realm. I did print out my research in order to make comment, notate, and read; but I found every bit of it freely available in digital format online in HTML or PDF. I did have to pay for an online subscription to The Bluebook, which uses a DRM scheme as protection; I wanted to use Open Office ( to write the paper, but because of issues with footnote formatting, I ended up using Microsoft Word, which uses a DRM scheme as protection; and to build the site I used Adobe CS4, which uses a DRM scheme as protection. But I think I can honestly say that no rights were harmed in the writing of this report.
Citation and Sources
I cited the sources for my research in a style adapted from MLA with extensive use of rules and adapted rules from The Bluebook. My intention was to credit the original works and give as much information as possible, so a reader could find the information and read it for her or himself. If you feel that I have not properly cited your work, please contact me, so we can resolve any issues (j e r e m i a h j o b e [at] g m a i l [d 0 t] c 0 m).
I deferred to Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, The OWL ( for all MLA reference, and used the online version of The Bluebook ( for reference to its rules. I realize that my citations and footnotes are not completely legal in any one style, but until there is a standard style for online publication, I think common sense and honest attempts will have to do.
Where available, I have tried to provide links to sources I used; however, for most of the statute, federal documents, and cases, I used standard citation, which does not include hyperlinks to the documents. So here's an attempt at crediting most of the websites I used. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF (, has several of the court documents on DRM ( I also found information and cases from Alt Law (, Justia (, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University ( Almost all of the information I found on legislation and statute came from government websites. I found all the information on bills and Congressional happenings at Thomas ( Once I became familiar with the basics of the bills and legislation, I used the Government Printing Office site, GPO Access ( The GPO Access site is great if you know what you need, but sometimes I had trouble downloading PDFs. My browser usually thought I was downloading a CGI script, but once downloaded, I just changed the name of the file from getdoc.cgi to somefile.pdf and everything worked fine. The Copyright Office proved a great source of electronic documentation for regulations, rulings and summaries dealing with the Copyright Office ( The Franklin Pierce Law Center IP Mall has a great collection of Congressional Research Service Reports (CRS Report) ( If you've never read a CRS Report and are interested in the workings of government and legislation, you are in for a treat. The CRS is the research team for the legislature. And Public.Resource.Org has more than you could ever read (
More Credit
As for the design of the site, I used the wordpress theme Journalist by Lucian E Marin as a starting point. Basically, I like the way the theme looks and tried to use some of the design elemets. I wrote all the css and code on my own, but must give credit for the inspiration. To see the way the site is put together, check out the css. For the content navigation in the side pane, I use GubuSoft's Tree View.
My personal belief is that DRM is an understandable evil; however, this does not make it a necessary evil. I am not sure if Congress will correct the broadness with which the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) is allowed to stand. But I know that as long as the law stands as it does now and consumers continue to buy media that is protected by DRM schemes (and don't complain), the companies using statutory DRM, as a new part of their business model and as a claim to rights of access management, will continue to do so with increasing intensity. I also feel that as a society we must reevaluate the meaning and importance of copyright. Currently copyright is ballooning to include far more than the essentials of providing protection to semi-exclusive rights granted creators of works as to reproduction, derivation, distribution, performance, and display of the works; and if left to continue, we will miss the point of protecting the works in the first place – the advancement of science and arts, facilitating the advancement of our society.
This site was originally published on December 9, 2008 and most recently modified on November 8, 2009.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License; however, this license does NOT extend to the works I have cited and used for this website.