This article aims to examine the problem of the lack of interoperability in Digital
Rights Management (DRM) systems, and hopes to shed some light on the causes and
effects of this state of affairs.
The First Part makes the case for the dual goals of use flexibility and
interoperability. Temporarily bracketing the issue of how to combine flexible use with a
DRM-rich digital environment, the first part examines (a) the value of flexible use of
content and how current DRMs limit user creativity and innovation and (b) the value of
interoperability both from the perspective of user creativity and technological innovation.
The Second Part examines the current disjointed state of affairs in the DRM
context. The aim of this part is to consider the technological and economic reasons that
explain existing low levels of DRM interoperability.
Finally, the Third Part examines different technological and policy alternatives to
break this interoperability deadlock in a way that is sensitive to user’s rights and
expectations and points to future research avenues.
In all, the aim of this article is to bring clarity to this rather confusing area and
suggest ways in which important values and innovation might be fostered in the DRM
* Associate Professor, University of Puerto Rico Law School. BA, University of Puerto Rico (1997); JD,
University of Puerto Rico Law School (2000); LL.M., Harvard University Law School (2002); LL.M. New
York University Law School (2008); JSD Student New York University Law School. I am grateful to
Rochelle Dreyfuss, Katherine Strandburg and students at NYU Law School’s 2008 Innovation Policy
Colloquium for their insightful comments and criticism. I am also indebted to Helen Nissenbaum for
helping me think about the many ways in which values are embedded in information and communication
technologies. All errors