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Karen Coyle

The Technology of Copyright: Digital Rights Management

November 19, 2003

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View Webcast (1 hour, 27 minutes)

A PDF Version of this talk is also available from Karen Coyle's web site, at


Without technological controls, digital documents are easily copied. Publishers of texts, music and video are looking to digital rights management (DRM) technology to allow them to distribute and sell their goods in digital format with a limited risk of piracy. DRM technologies in development today range from simple password control to elaborate models of trusted systems. They all exercise some control over the use of materials they protect. What will it mean to writers, publishers, readers and libraries to work with documents that are protected by technology? How does DRM interact with copyright law? Can we live with it? Can we survive without it?


Karen Coyle has over two decades of experience in digital libraries. She has recently worked for the Division of Library Automation at the University of California and the California Digital Library. She is a well-known metadata expert and has served on the MARC standards committee, the NISO OpenURL committee, and has advised in the development of MODS and other metadata efforts.

While active in developing computer systems for libraries, she is outspoken about the effects, both negative and positive, electronic information is having on the social role of libraries. She has published numerous articles on practical and policy questions relating to the "new information order." She has been instrumental in developing an awareness of the relationship between technology and privacy, both in libraries and in the general public. She is leading the Office for Information
Technology Policy's task force on ebooks, which fosters library participation in arenas where both policy and technology are being developed that may determine the future of reading. Karen testified before the Copyright Office hearings on the role of technological controls and the doctrine of First Sale.

Karen is a long-time activist with Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, for whom she designed their best-seller t-shirt that reads: Question Technology.

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