Copyright and Technology
Hello! I’m Bill Rosenblatt. Thanks for taking a moment to learn about the site. Here is some information about me, my consulting practice, the history of the site, and my perspective on content rights technologies.
Copyright and Technology is the only publication that exclusively covers the role of technology as an enabler of copyright. We discuss digital rights technologies, including DRM, watermarking, fingerprinting, rights licensing, and rights information management; we discuss technology-related aspects of copyright law including service provider liability, graduated response, anticircumvention, digital first sale, etc.; and we discuss the evolution of digital content business models and economics.
I run GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, a management consultancy focused on the content industries. At GiantSteps, we help our clients, primarily media companies and digital media technology vendors, achieve growth through market intelligence and our expertise in business strategy and technology architecture. My consulting practice spans many different areas of digital content technology, including content management, editorial and production systems, cross-media publishing, streaming media, and digital product design as well as digital rights technologies.
I also serve as a litigation expert and public policy consultant, and I run the Copyright and Technology conferences in New York and London.
My involvement with digital rights technologies began in 1994, while I was working at Times Mirror Co., a diversified publishing company whose divisions are now owned by Tribune Co., Reed Elsevier, McGraw-Hill, and others. I was asked to represent Times Mirror on a publishing industry standards committee that was looking into copyright issues in the emerging world of online content. Through my work with this standards committee, I was introduced to early DRM technology and helped design the Digital Object Identifier (DOI), now an established standard for online content commerce and rights management. Since then, I have worked on both the vendor and content owner sides of rights technology strategy, deployment, investment, and litigation support. You can learn more about my background if you wish.
My book Digital Rights Management: Business and Technology was published in late 2001 by M&T Books, an imprint of John Wiley & Sons. This was my third book; the previous two were technical books published by O’Reilly & Associates. As soon as the book went into production, in September 2001, I started the website DRM Watch (no blogs back then!) to keep up with all of the developments in this fast-moving field that happened too late to make it into the book. A few months later, I created a free email newsletter service as a companion to the website.
Jupitermedia Corp. acquired DRM Watch in October 2003 and published it through January 2009, a run of over 5 years. Copyright and Technology is a successor to DRM Watch that covers a broader range of subject matter.
I get material from many sources, including direct contact with technology vendors, content providers, standards committees, policy officials, attorneys, and various other industry players, as well as court decisions, hearings transcripts, and so on. I publish stories on developments that I feel are of interest to a broad cross-section of people in the content, technology, and legal fields, developments that represent the forward motion of the industry. I report on things that actually happened, not (in most cases) on pre-announcements, promises, or opinions, and I try to maintain a healthy skepticism and “show me” attitude towards all sides of the industry. Through our analysis, I hope to filter out hype and draw attention to the trends that I feel will lead to the future.
My view is that just as technology has radically enabled the creation, distribution, and consumption of copyrighted works, it also has a vital role to play to ensure the continued relevance of copyright in the digital age. “Rights technologies” aren’t just about protecting and enforcing copyrights; they’re also about providing order and rationality, and at their best, they are tools for every content creator, not just major corporations.
As Lawrence Lessig says in his book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, technology is one of four empirical forces that determine how people and businesses conduct themselves, others being laws, markets, and societal norms. We can argue about how those four forces do or should balance each other out, but my belief is that when it comes to digital content, markets and technology are ultimately the most powerful forces. Attempts to manipulate the other two (laws and norms) to control them are often ineffectual, especially when they are driven by people who fundamentally do not understand or appreciate technology and how it interacts with legal and market forces.
I am fascinated by digital content rights as a field because of its multidisciplinary character, taking in law and business models as well as technology. My personal interest also stems from the fact that I was fed, clothed, and housed because my father was able to make a living as a working musician. This is a highly complex, often misunderstood field, and the more everyone understands it, the better off we will all be in the end. I hope that reading this site helps increase your fascination too.
Disclosures and Disclaimers:
We occasionally publish articles on this site about companies or institutions with which we have current or previous consulting relationships. We make every attempt to separate editorial concerns from our consulting work. We observe confidential disclosure agreements rigorously.
We collect names and email addresses of subscribers during the natural course of subscription processing. We will occasionally use these addresses to send messages that we believe will be of interest to our subscribers, but we will never sell or otherwise make available subscribers’ email addresses or other personal information to third parties.
Note to Vendor Representatives:
I encourage all vendors of rights-related technologies to send press releases and other news to me. We strongly respect embargoes. Announcements from vendors must be posted on public websites to be considered — if not the vendor’s own website, then PR Newswire or equivalent. Sorry, we do not publish press releases verbatim, nor do we accept unsolicited outside contributions.
We regularly and gratefully receive news items from multiple sources, and we reserve the right to exercise editorial control over our publication. Here are some guidelines on news items pertaining to technology vendors, particularly early stage vendors.
We publish stories about news events that move the content rights technology industry forward. Here are some examples of stories about technology vendors that we generally find interesting:
- Signed deal with a customer that is large in the media industry.
- Signed deal that is significant in opening up opportunities for rights technologies in a new industry (e.g., distance learning, financial services, healthcare).
- Major technology vendor OEMs or otherwise adopts startup vendor’s technology.
- Online content service launched with significant new business model that makes novel use of rights technologies.
- New rights-related standard, or new major version of a rights-related standard, is released with sufficiently broad industry support.
- New, nontrivial adoption or implementation of a rights-related standard.
- Exciting technology breakthrough at the research level.
- Significant patent granted.
- Resolution of patent dispute.
- Significant merger or acquisition.
- Major layoffs, bankruptcy, or ceasing of operations.
Here are some examples of announcements that, in most cases, we do not report on:
- Strategic partnerships among vendors (joint marketing, resale agreement, etc.).
- New marketing or sales initiatives.
- Winning of awards from magazines, analyst firms, trade shows, etc.
- Reaching of milestones or “momentum” (100th customer signed, 5th year in business, beat last quarter’s revenues by 50%, etc.)
- Mention in analyst firm research report.
- New product or technology concept, unproven with customers.
- Executive appointments or internal reorganizations.
- Closing of funding rounds.
- Customer deals that are similar to those about which we recently published a story.
- Minor customer deals.
- Release of new version of software without significant customer deployment.
- Patent applied for.
- Patent granted that is a continuation or minor extension of an existing patent.
Finally, we also publish reviews of books on digital copyright and related subjects and would be happy to receive review copies of such books.