Digital Rights Management
DRM – Digital Rights Management or Digital Restrictions Management, as the adversaries of DRM choose to call it, is a buzz word that encompasses an array of cryptographic technologies, employed to protect or restrict the unauthorized use of digital content – e-books, documents and media – and the devices that present them to the user. Before the internet revolution, in the analog world, reproduction and distribution of content was rather cumbersome. In the case of analog media, the quality of the original tape and thus the copies produced deteriorates with every reproduction. However, with the advent of the Internet, the world was networked and distribution of content is now just a click away. The internet, thus provides an unhindered platform for 'piracy' or unauthorized copying, even to the average user who could be doing so in blissful ignorance. The creative content publishers felt the need for a mechanism to prevent such illegitimate copying. Thus was born, Digital Rights Management.
The DRM concept:
DRM has its roots in cryptography. The content to be protected is encrypted such that it can be decrypted only using valid licenses obtained from the authors or copyright holders of the content, who also decide the restrictions that are to be imposed on their work – like the number of times it can be played, or burnt to a CD, or copied to a portable media player, etc. in the case of music/videos. These restrictions are enforced using appropriate software, a media player in the case of the former example.
DRM in action:
The film industry – The Content Scrambling System (CSS) was an implementation of the DRM scheme to protect DVDs from being ripped and copied. Read more here.
Future TV broadcasts are set to carry a 'broadcast flag' to identify whether the broadcast can be recorded. HD-DVDs and Blue-ray discs also utilize DRM schemes.
The music industry – On-line music stores utilise DRM to protect their content from unauthorized use. Efforts to include DRM in regular audio CDs were also taken but were unsuccessful.
Documents – DRM finds applications in the e-publishing sector where e-books and the like are protected using DRM. It could also be used within corporations to enforce restrictions on internally circulated documents – like whether they can be edited, or printed, or distributed.
- Digital Rights Management (Wikipedia)
- How Stuff Works
- DRM Blog