Digital Rights Management

When producers of creative content like music, movies, video games, apps, and eBooks want to protect their products from copying or other unwanted use they use Digital Rights Management. Digital Rights Management, commonly referred to by its initial letters, DRM, is copy protection embedded into digital files to prevent unauthorized use. This unauthorized use may include duplication, printing, or copying. DRM works by only allowing the permissions wanted by the company publishing the material.

The movie industry claims to lose around $5 billion a year in lost revenue because of illegal downloading and copying. This number is difficult to prove or disprove because of the clandestine nature of downloading. Since movie studios began putting DRM features on VHS tapes to prevent duplication, Digital Rights Management has been an important tool in the arsenal for the fight against intellectual piracy.

Digital Rights management began being used by music record labels to prevent music from being ripped from CDs. Record labels and movie studios feel that by including DRM features in their product, they can prevent further loss. Artists do not lose revenue when DRM software is included in their media. Consumers who used their CDs in computers soon found that their computers were seizing up or programs began acting differently. This caused backlash, as people couldn’t even play a music CD on their computers without it wreaking havoc upon their system.

Other forms of media, including movies and video games on DVDs began using DRM to protect their products from copying. As music and movies began to be offered for download from services like Amazon or iTunes, DRM was included in the digital files. EBooks and apps for download also included DRM features that limited their use to certain platforms.

DRM has proven to be unpopular with consumers. While most of them would be reluctant to illegally download music, movies or other media, they overwhelmingly want portability features. Consumers want to be able to listen to their music on their mp3 players or mobile phone, without having to worry about whether they can load their favorite songs. They want to be able to read books or watch movies on their iPad or other tablet. Without the ability to move their media to various devices, some turn to alternative channels for their downloads.

Digital Rights Management architecture works by creating a chart of permissions and actions. Authorized uses of media are granted permission by the DRM software, while unauthorized uses, like copying text from an eBook, are denied. Creators set permissions before the release of the media product in order to protect their intellectual property from copying and theft.

Digital Rights Management features prevent unwanted use of media by consumers. They protect the interests of the content creator and the content distributor. DRM features are in place to prevent copyright infringement and theft. Despite their popularity with content providers, their reception has not been as positive with consumers. Consumers have railed against the restrictions placed by DRM software, demanding portability for their media. Some content producers have changed their positions, as pressure from customers railed against the restrictions of DRM. Because of the mixed feelings regarding DRM protections, they are not used as prevalent as they once were or have been altered to be less intrusive.


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