What Digital Rights Management is
DRM refers to any of the technologies designed to enforce pre-defined policies on copyrighted data distributed on a media. Such pre-defined policies may include restricted copying and transferring. DVD movies and online music stores are technologies that employ digital rights management.
It is widely legislated that the circumventing of DRM is illegal.Back to top
Content Scrambling System
CSS is an early example of DRM. It is an encryption system used for some DVDs, introduced in around 1996. The system weakly encrypts content on DVDs with a certain secret key. Manufacturers must then sign an agreement with the DVD Consortium to leave out certain features that would disallow users to, for instance, obtain a digital copy of DVD data to distribute online. Only after signing the agreement can manufacturers obtain the key to enable DVDs to be played on their players.Back to top
A program called DeCSS was released in October 1999. It allowed the decryption of DVD data protected by CSS. Thus, digital copies of DVDs were possible. Now, many programs that would enable the lay person to circumvent CSS are available.
Publication of the DeCSS code is illegal in countries signatory to the WIPO Copyright? Treaty. However, the program is still freely available on the Internet.Back to top
Copy Protection in Music
The other medium in which DRM is effected is in music, whether online or on discs. iTunes Music Store, which has an 80% share in worldwide online music sales, uses FairPlay DRM. Downloaded songs are encrypted in AAC streams, playable only on computers with QuickTime and QuickTime-based software, and portable music player iPod. Users can play the songs on five computers within twenty-four hours, but can download? the songs onto any number of iPods.
Photograph of a music studio, users can burn the tunes onto a CD and then rip the CD to get an unprotected audio file.
Like CSS, this copy protection? can be circumvented using programs freely available on the Internet. Even without the help of such programs, users can burn the tunes onto a CD and then rip the CD to get an unprotected audio file.Back to top
Copy Protection Controversies
In end-2005, it was discovered that Sony-BMG implemented in some of its CDs a DRM software that was to be called a “spyware” by the press and anti-spyware tools alike. When a user inserts a CD with Sony’s XCP into a CD drive on a computer, the software copies itself onto the computer without notifying the user. It then monitors and limits the activities of the user with respect to the songs on the CD, including restricting the number of times the music can be copied.
The software compromises the user’s computer by allowing potential Internet viruses to infiltrate. It also allegedly slows down the user’s computer. Removal is also difficult; the CD drive might be disabled on attempts at removal of the software. The computer could even crash.
The implementation of XCP angered many consumers of Sony music, causing Sony to recall all unsold CDs with XCP. Sony also offered to exchange XCP-enabled CDs with XCP-disabled ones. It has since provided software to enable users to remove XCP software. Sony currently faces class action suits in New York and California.