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Fair Use, First Sale and Digital Rights Management


Louie Pitlo


March 9, 2017

Media researchers explore the concept of fair use and first sale and dealt with secondary liability in the infringement of copyrights. They proceed by citing concrete examples that bolster his discussion on the three concepts mentioned earlier. They also dealt with the role of government institutions in regulating DRM and lastly, proposed measures that will help in determining the effectiveness of DRM.

There are media professionals that mentioned that fair use is a set of concepts or set of justifications that may be looked at by the courts in determining whether copying a digital media infringes on copyrights or not. On the other hand, the concept of the first sale states that if a consumer bought a certain product, like an album or a video, the producer of the piece has no more say if the consumer decides to share, reproduce and distribute this digital media. The concept of the first sale has been contested by members of the media industry and argued that first sale does not apply to digitally distributed goods. 

Another important concept that researchers delved on is the secondary liability in the infringement of copyrights, which comes in two forms—direct assistance in copyright infringement or failure to stop infringement due to vested interests. They also pointed out the limitations of technology in controlling infringements to copyrights. They argued that “fair use” should be abolished and supplanted by a more useful set of criteria and also enumerated several legislations intended to regulate DRM, in addition to several lawsuits that led to the closure of several P2P networks.

There are some who concluded that the DRM has not been very effective in regulating the free distribution of copyrighted materials. So then they proposed factors in assessing DRM—its relationship with the copyright process, policy and infringement. According to marketers, the awarding of copyrights ensures that creators are given due recognition and reward for their jobs. If this were not given, then there would be no incentive for them to continue producing and in extreme cases, without profit coming in, the music industry will collapse! On the other hand, media researchers proposed for DRM to be assessed from the point of view of the user or consumer. On the whole, however, the most important assessment that they proposed is the impact of DRM in the economic system. Businessmen point out the unwillingness of the digital media industries to invest in technology that will help implement DRM even though they are already losing billions of dollars from piracy on the internet and from unauthorised reproduction of copyrighted materials.

Suffice it to say, If the DRM were not implemented, then the future of the media industry may be in peril. On the other, if producers and content owners put their price too high, then the consumers will not be able to have access to their creations. 

Get to know more about DRM and the future of the media industry, contact us!


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