Smart Cow Problem



The smart cow problem refers to the fact that when a group of individuals is faced with a technically difficult task, only one of their members has to solve it. When the problem has been solved once, an easily repeatable method may be developed, allowing the less technically proficient members of the group to accomplish the task.

The concept is relevant to copyright protection schemes such as DRM (Digital Rights Management), where, due to the rapid spread of information on the Internet, it only takes one individual’s defeat of a DRM technology to render the method obsolete. The term ‘smart cow’ is thought to be derive from the expression: ‘It only takes one smart cow to open the latch of the gate, and then all the other cows follow.’

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