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Is the answer still in the machine: do publishers need digital rights management?

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Has the challenge of unauthorized digital reproduction and distribution of copyright works been met by the use of so-called 'digital rights management' (DRM) technology - and what role will DRM play in publishing, including scholarly journal and learned publishing? This article explores the legal and commercial issues surrounding DRM from its analogue origins through to the latest market developments. It argues that the implementation of DRM in other media sectors provides valuable lessons to publishers. Acknowledging the practical challenges that DRM has faced, the article suggests that whilst DRM will offer an answer to 'the machine', it must form part of a flexible solution that adapts to the requirements of electronic publishing.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Editor in Chief: Pippa Smart
    North American Editor: Judy Luther

    Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal is published quarterly in January/April/July/October.

    Learned Publishing articles are available free online to members of ALPSP and SSP.
    ALPSP members: log in to If you do not have a password contact
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    Learned Publishing will be moving to Wiley-Blackwell as of January 1, 2016. Please contact the publisher at for information on how to continue access to this title.

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