17-290 / 19-211 Computers and Society

Homework 4 - due March 8, 2007

Reading assignment:
Quinn 4,
Thoughts on Music
Job's Music Proposal Rebuffed
DRM {and, or, vs.} the law
Why Software Should Not Have Owners

1. What are three important differences between copyrights and patents?

2. Professor Smith has been invited to give a presentation at a major conference. She will be paid a $1000 honorarium. Those attending her talk will be required to register for the conference and pay the admission fee. To inject some humor into her talk, Professor Smith has selected three of her favorite Dilbert cartoons from one of the Dilbert books she owns. She has scanned them into her computer and included them in the slides she will show during her talk. (a) Is this most likely fair use? Explain. (b) Does it make any difference if she posts her slides on the Internet after her talk? (c) What if she gives the presentation to her class rather than at the conference?

3. What is the appropriate role, if any, for digital rights management (DRM)? Steve Jobs has proposed that DRM be abandoned for music, but the recording industry disagrees. What about movies? Software? Games? Electronic books? You may write about DRM in general or you may limit your argument to a particular type of media. Your essay should clearly present your argument and explain why you disagree with some of the arguments made by people on another side of the debate (this means you need to cite articles supporting at least two different sides of the debate).

Question 3 will be the topic of our class debate #4 on March 8. Students will be assigned to argue for and against the statement: Digital music should be sold without DRM protection. Debaters will play the roles of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. Debate assignments will be made in class on February 27.