The Economics of Digital Rights Management
As our unit on net neutrality demonstrated, there is significant pressure to ensure that the digital domain remains free and open through the use of legislation and regulation. However, there have been historical instances in which attempts to restrict user/consumer freedom have been defeated not through legislation, but rather through market forces. For example, video game producers have been forced to remove DRM mechanisms in response to consumer backlash.
The question for this unit would be whether such economic considerations could prove an effective substitute for government regulation. Perhaps they will, or perhaps they won't. Some guiding questions include:
- What is the history of and arguments for (and against) DRM?
- In specific instances, why have market forces defeated DRM?
- In other cases, why has DRM remained in place?
- Are there reasons to prefer economic regulation over government regulation, or vice versa?