What is Digital Rights Management?

Ken Black

Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is a copyright protection on media that is placed on certain forms of digital media to prevent duplication in certain ways. Many have opposed Digital Rights Management technology and policy, arguing that it is too restrictive and the copy restriction can prevent lawful use of the media that is legally purchased. Others say it is the best way to make sure the original authors get what they deserve.

Some DRM protections disable the ability to copy and paste files and text.
Some DRM protections disable the ability to copy and paste files and text.

Like many other types of technologies, Digital Rights Management technology can be circumvented by those who know what they are doing or who share the software with others. However, Congress has passed a law also making the circumvention of the software a crime, even if the intention is to use the media in a lawful manner. It may be hard to catch, but it can pose a risk for those who do try to circumvent the software.

Digital rights management protects the distribution of movies.
Digital rights management protects the distribution of movies.

One of the main benefits of Digital Rights Management content protection is that it can not only be used to protect the media from being copied 100 percent, it can also prevent certain situations. For example, a producer may allow a movie on DVD to be backed up for safekeeping. Therefore, producers may allow it to be duplicated once or twice before the Digital Rights Management software would restrict future backups. This means even those who are pirating the software would only be able to do it twice before needing another copy of the movie, provided they had no way of circumventing the process.

Digital Rights Management may also have some unintended consequences. For example, some may find it difficult to put music on a portable media player with certain types of Digital Rights Management protections. Most of the time, these issues are quickly corrected by the manufacturer, who knows they will soon get a bad reputation if people buy their product but are unable to enjoy it in common uses. Still, the inability to use the media as intended, if only for a little while, can be extremely frustrating.

Digital Rights Management software cannot only protect audio and video files, it can also protect files such as word processing documents. It may prevent features such as copying and pasting or printing. This is becoming especially prevalent with books in electronic format, due to their increasing popularity. In some cases, those books may only be viewable for a short period of time if the full electronic version is not purchased.

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What does OCCUR stand for in DRM technology?

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