March 2007 Copyright Symposium

Predictions that digital rights management (DRM) technologies will be the predominant mode of distribution of digital content have been prevalent for at least the last decade. Yet, roll-out of DRM technologies has been somewhat slower than many expected, in part owing to consumer resistance to some DRM content and in part owing to the technical challenges that must be overcome to create the infrastructure for DRM content. Many digital content providers believe that DRM content will be good for consumers because it enables new opportunities for content to be delivered in a variety of packages.

However, technically protected content can raise significant consumer protection concerns. One example is Sony BMG’s sale of copy-protected CDs that installed “rootkit” software on the computers of purchasers, making their computers vulnerable to attack. Another example is legislation recently proposed in France to require firms, such as Apple, to disclose information to enable other digital music platforms besides the iPod to be interoperable with iTunes music.

The BCLT/BTLJ/IViR symposium will draw attention to a range of issues from technological, business, academic, artistic, and public interest sectors in the United States and abroad. We expect a broad audience of high tech lawyers, information technology and content industry representatives, technologists, and some policymakers. By bringing together these various perspectives, we hope to educate the audience about the consumer protection ramifications of DRM technologies and raise the level of discourse about DRM law and policy issues. This conference will facilitate cross-disciplinary and cross-industry discussion on this important topic. Seven invited papers will be published in a symposium volume of BTLJ following the conference. These articles, as well as discourse among panelists, will contribute to the policy debate and to the literature on DRM and consumer protection law and policy issues.

This symposium is being underwritten, in part, from a generous grant by the Microsoft Corporation.

Click here to download the Final Symposium Program.