Some digital files, such as songs, e-books, and video games, are designed to prevent copying, sharing, or using them on a device other than the one for which it was purchased. This can often cause irritation on the part of the consumer. By paying your hard-earned money for a product, you want to be able to do whatever you want with it.
When purchasing such a program, you often feel cheated, as if you purchased a defective or incomplete product. The point is, you are limited by digital rights / rights management (DRM).
But what is DRM? In this article, we will help you understand this concept and its implications for you.
What is DRM?
Digital Rights Management is a far-reaching term that refers to technological constraints that control what users can do with digital media. This means that the control of use is removed from the person who owns the content and transfers it to the “hands” of the computer program.
DRM is a two-part scheme. The first part is encryption to protect the content itself. The second is to ensure that only authorized users can unlock files using the authentication system. By purchasing a DRM protected product, you are essentially buying a defective or incomplete item.
This gives DRM users a lot of control over media production and distribution. There are many applications and methods that you can use to insert DRM, such as a server that restricts access to an e-book based on copyright restrictions, or limiting the number of copies you can make from a DVD.
This may seem overly restrictive from a consumer’s point of view, but DRM can limit the damage from piracy. File sharing networks have made traditional copyright law obsolete in practice. When someone downloads an MP3 or video file of a copyrighted product from a free file sharing website, the company or studio responsible for the original product loses money.
It’s impractical to try to sue every person who breaks the law in this way on the Internet, so DRM is a companyâ€™s way of establishing some control over its product.
DRM does not currently have industry-wide standards. Many digital companies have opted for DRM protection to prevent users from copying, printing, modifying or transmitting materials, period. The greatest concern of DRM adversaries is that current DRM trends are effectively superior to the protections provided by traditional copyright laws.
Other arguments against digital rights management are user privacy, technological innovation, and fair use. Under applicable copyright laws, fair use gives the consumer the right to make copies of the copyrighted content for their own use. First Sale, the Right to Resell Purchased Digital Content, and Limited Term, Copyright Expiration After a Specific Time Period are doctrines that DRM also discourages.
Third-party vendors may not develop software products and plugins if the computer code in that software is indefinitely protected by DRM. In the same note, consumers cannot legally tamper with their equipment if it is protected by a DRM scheme that prohibits modification.
How to verify DRM encryption
Most paid digital content is now DRM protected. You will likely encounter this when purchasing digital video / DVDs, music files, or e-books.
To find out if your product is DRM protected:
Audio / video file
- Right-click the media file.
- Select Properties.
- Click the Details tab.
- Look for Protected. If you click Yes or No on the right, you will know if the file contains DRM protection.
- Select an eBook from your iTunes library.
- Go to File> Get Info.
- Click the Summary tab.
- Next to View, you will see Book, Purchased Book, or Protected Book. The first two are DRM free and the last one is DRM protected.
You only need to purchase the official DVD to know that it is DRM protected. This applies to both purchases made online and offline.
Here are some clear signs that a DVD may be DRM protected:
- There is copyright on the inner hub of the disc;
- The packaging is made of plastic, a case with 2-3 paddles (jewelry case) and sealed with cellophane;
- You will receive a copyright notice at the beginning of the movie.
There are other ways, but this is the easiest way to determine if a DVD is protected.
Piracy isn’t slowing down either offline or on the Internet, is DRM really effective? There are already many software tools that can bypass and even remove DRM protection.
As DRM continues to become standardized across the digital industries, we are left to wonder if any DRM system can satisfy both copyright holders and consumers. A further look at what the future holds for us can be summarized with what experts call reliable computing.
Reliable computing is when a computer will consistently behave as expected, as provided by the computer hardware and software. This protects copyrighted content from production to purchase and use. The computers will automatically know what the user can and cannot legally do with some of the content and will act accordingly.
This is a double-edged sword for consumers. On the one hand, you have user rights that will be severely limited. On the other hand, by adopting DRM standards, consumers will benefit at least partially because DRM-encoded media will play on all types of equipment.