Digital Media Project
A research initiative of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School
Speedbumps Scenario for Digital Media


Patent Law
Media Exchange
Media in Asia
New Tools
K-12 Initiative


Research Team
Sign Up


During the past year, members of the Digital Media Project team have been working with research partners and activists to craft a solution to the crisis in digital media by creating a viable commerical marketplace for online distribution.  The Speedbumps Scenario forecasts that a combination of technological, legal, and social restrictions can be implemented to allow for the commercial success of online media services.

Prof. Charles Nesson has argued that success does not depend on complete elimination of piracy or file-sharing.  Instead, it depends on the comparative attractiveness of a service over file-sharing networks as a source for obtaining new releases of copyrighted works.  The premise of the Speedbumps model is that free is tough to compete with, but that success does not require total control. Some leakage from the commercial marketplace is both tolerable and to be expected.

The Speedbumps scenario seeks to craft a realistic and lawful approach that supports a viable commercial marketplace for digital entertainment products while also encouraging liberal reform of past practices in the entertainment industries, respecting the open end-to-end architecture of the Internet, and retaining the basic structure of copyright law.


The Berkman Center held a day-long conference about the Speedbumps Scenario on April 16, 2004.  Read the Conference Overview.


Download Readings

Click on the icon below and download all the readings in a single zipped file.  Note: the Speedbumps Overview is the primary document.

Additional Readings