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 the issues we discuss here.
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 resale, 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.
Here is my LinkedIn profile.
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 Tronc (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 the Internet. 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 rights technology strategy, deployment, investment, and litigation support for all stakeholders: copyright owners, digital media technology vendors, online service providers, and consumer electronics makers. There’s more about my background here.
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 others were technical books published by O’Reilly Media. As soon as the book went into production, in September 2001, I started an called e-newsletter 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.
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 and perspectives.
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 news reports, 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 write about things that actually happened, not (in most cases) on pre-announcements, promises, or opinions (other than court 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 to a messy and rapidly-changing field.
As Lawrence Lessig says in his landmark book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, technology is one of four empirical forces that determine how people and businesses conduct themselves, the 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 two factors of my upbringing: I was fed, clothed, housed, and educated because my father was able to make a living as a working musician; and I was trained in computer science and spent several years as a software engineer. 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.
- “Those of us who have been working on these issues related to copyright and technology for the past decade, we all know and have greatly appreciated the leadership and skill and thought that Bill has put into these issues.” — Tom Rubin, Chief Intellectual Property Strategy Counsel, Microsoft
- “Bill’s blog is a must-read.” — Stanley Pierre-Louis, VP and Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property and Content Protection, Viacom
- “You’ve made a niche (it seems) that is exactly the right mix of business/policy/technical, so you can float above the insanity that characterizes the DRM space.” — John Erickson, Institute for Data Exploration and Application (IDEA), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- “… you have created this impressive—and interesting—community of interest. There are so many important people [at the Copyright and Technology conference] in your field and they have an interesting web of professional and personal relationships. I have to think it’s really valuable both for them and for folks like me who don’t have only a certain slice of expertise.” — Bill Trippe, Director of Technology, MIT Press
- “There are very few professionals in our industry that understand DRM as well as Bill Rosenblatt.” — Christopher Levy, CEO, BuyDRM
Disclosures and Disclaimers:
I occasionally publish articles on this site about companies or institutions with which we have current or previous consulting relationships. I make every effort to separate editorial concerns from consulting work. I 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 make subscribers’ email addresses or other personal information available to third parties.
I occasionally publish whitepapers and other documents that may be commissioned by technology vendors. We require users (who may or may not be subscribers) to fill out contact information to obtain these. We may share this contact information with the commissioning entities, which may use it for marketing purposes, but we keep this information entirely separate from subscriber information.
Note to Press Representatives:
I encourage all vendors of rights-related technologies to send press releases and other news. 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 may find interesting:
- Signed deal with a customer that is large in the media industry.
- Signed deal that is significant in applying 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 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-related news (litigations, patents issued, patent license agreements, etc.).
Finally, I also publish reviews of books on digital copyright and related subjects and would gratefully receive review copies of such books.