It has been pretty quiet overhere lately. The reason? I have been writing a paper about closed architectures for content distribution in Japan, which I will present at the Reproduction in Modern Japan conference over at Yale University. And there’s more on the agenda – a short overview.
- 09-30: I will attend the Techlaw Student Summit (University of Ottawa) and drop by at the iCommons Canada launch party later on.
- 10-01: I will attend the The Internet and the Law – A Global Conversation conference (University of Ottawa) featuring speakers such as Lawrence Lessig, Michael Geist, et al.
- 10-02: Second day of the The Internet and the Law – A Global Conversation conference – my advisor Prof. Takato Natsui will give a lecture about internet and regulation.
- 10-07: I will meet Ian Condry, whom I wrote about before (and met in Tokyo in July), at the MIT; later on in the afternoon we’ll give a workshop-like presentation about copyright developments in Japan at Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies.
- 10-08: Traveling to Yale University, New Haven, where I will join in for a simultaneous screening of The Ring and Ringu in the evening.
- 10-09: I will present the paper mentioned above at the Reproduction in Modern Japan conference at Yale University.
- 10-10: Second day of the Reproduction in Modern Japan conference.
A pretty busy schedule, as you see.
As for now, I will post the abstract of my paper – the full text (probably) follows in a week or two.
This paper deals with the recent emergence of highly controlled architectures for digital content delivery in Japan. It investigates the architectures’ socio-economic impact on the creation of new materials and on the development of electronic devices that come into contact with digital content.
New creations always build on the past—this is also true for Japan, which is interestingly often considered as having a deeply rooted culture of innovation through copy and imitation. Recently however, the Japanese content industry is gradually increasing its control over what happens with content after its distribution, and thus, preventing it to be (re-)used in innovative ways—this controllability is achieved by Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes embedded in high-end electronic devices such as mobile phones and digital TV sets.
In my paper I take a closer look at the implementation of DRM schemes and analyze what effect they have on the use and re-use of the content they aim to protect. I argue that the scope of this protection is much wider than it should be; in essence, every use that is not specifically permitted by the content provider is in fact prohibited. Moreover, adding DRM to the materials they distribute places the content providers in a very powerful position: they enable themselves to control the architecture and development of the downstream devices that process their digital content. Control of such an extent has or will have a stifling effect on innovation in Japan both on the content production level as well as on the content carrier/editor development level—a very unpromising outlook indeed. In this respect, I question whether the Japanese content industry’s current DRM tactics are the way to go—possibly re-thinking and adjusting business models may ultimately prove to be a more viable and thus a more future-proof solution.