Digital Rights Management Definition/Function/Restriction [MiniTool Wiki]

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Digital Rights Management Function

Digital rights management technologies control the use and modification of copyright protected works like multimedia data and software programs, and operating systems within digital devices that executes those policies. It also applied for content distribution.

Digital Rights Management Applications

Next, it will explain the use of digital rights management and how it applies.

DRM in Laws

Worldwide, a lot of laws have been created to criminalize the circumvention of digital rights management, creation & distribution of tools for such circumvention, and even the communication about the circumvention.

Those laws are part of the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the European Union’s Information Society Directive. The French Loi sur le Droit d'Auteur et les Droits Voisins dans la Société de l'Information (DADVSI) is an example of a member state of the European Union (EU) implementing the directive.

Tip: An Overview of HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection)

DRM in Actual Use

Common digital rights management techniques contain restrictive licensing agreements: The access to digital materials, copyright and public domain is restricted to consumers as a condition of entering websites or when downloading applications. Encryption, scrambling of expressive material and embedding of a tag, which is designed to control access and reproduction of info including back up copies for personal usage is also restricted.

DRM technologies allow content publishers to enforce their customized access policies on their published contents like restrictions on viewing and copying. However, those technologies have been criticized for restricting individuals from using or copying the content legally, including by fair use.

DRM in Entertainment Industry

Digital rights management is also in common usage in the entertainment industry like video and audio publishers. Lots of online music stores (e.g. Apple’s iTunes Store) and e-book publishers & vendors (e.g. OverDrive) also make use of DRM to prevent unauthorized using of content or services, so as cable and satellite service operators.

Apple's digital rights management system called FairPlay prevented songs from being played on more than computers, prevented songs from being copied onto CDs more than seven times, and prevented music purchased from the iTunes Store from playing in non-Apple MP3 players. Yet, Apple dropped DRM from all iTunes music files around 2009.

Related Article: Netflix Digital Rights Management Error Fix

DRM in Hardware Products

Industry has expanded the use of digital rights management to more traditional hardware products like Philips’ light bulbs, mobile device power chargers, as well as Keurig’s coffeemakers. For instance, tractor companies try to stop farmers from making DIY repairs of the tractors relying on the use of DRM-laws like DMCA mentioned above.

Copy Restriction

Copy Restriction of digital rights management can be applied to electronic books and documents to prevent copying, printing, forwarding, as well as saving backup copies. This is common for both enterprise Information Rights Management (IRM) and e-publishers. DRM typically integrates with content management system software. Yet, some enterprises develop their own custom DRM systems, such as Samsung Electronics.

There are 4 main e-book digital rights management schemes in common usage and they are form Apple, Adobe, Amazon, and the Marlin Trust Management Organization (MTMO).

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Is Digital Rights Management Necessary?

Whether it is good to apply digital rights management or not. Different people have unlike ideas.

Proponents think it is of great necessity to prevent intellectual property from being copies with restriction. They argue that just as it is necessary to use physical locks to avoid personal property from being stolen, it is also necessary to adopt DRM to protect copyrighted contents. They said that copyright infringement has been eliminated by digital rights management. Therefore, the holder of the copyright can maintain artistic control and the revenue streams can be ensured.

However, the opponents express that there is no evidence proving that digital rights management DRM helps prevent copyright infringement. Vice versa, DRM serves only to inconvenience legitimate customers. It also assists big enterprises to stifle innovation and competition.

Moreover, digital contents can become permanently unavailable if the digital rights management scheme changes or if the service is discontinued. DRM can also restrict users from exercising their legal rights under the copyright laws like cloning CDs, cloning DVDs, accessing contents in the public domain, using copyrighted materials for education or research under fair use, and so on. Instead, they have to buy another copy of those CDs/DVDs, only if they are still available for purchasing.

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