Natural Laws of Digital Content: the Folly of Copy Protection on the Internet

Monday, February 12, 2001 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Moos Tower 2650
Bruce Schneier (Counterpane Internet Security, Inc.)
Copy protection is not new, but has been given a new lease on life with the commercialization of the Internet. Old-world media companies want to sell their wares over digital networks, but want to control their use. Limiting resale, preventing copying, pay-per-use: these are all differnet ways of limiting what a consumer can do with a digital file after he or she receives it on his or her computer. Many different products purport to solve these problems, but they all fail. Making digital files uncopyable goes against the natural laws of digital content. In this talk, I will discuss these laws, explain why all copy-protection mechanisms fail technically, and describe some of the non-technical solutions media companies are pursuing.

Bruce Schneier is co-founder and CTO of Counterpane Internet Security, Inc. Internationlly-renowned security technologist Bruce Schneier is the author of six books, including Secrets & Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World. Published in October 2000, Secrets & Lies has already sold 70,000 copies. An earlier book, Applied Cryptography, now in its second edition, is the seminal work in its field and has sold over 130,000 copies worldwide.