Understanding Digital Rights Management

What is Digital Rights Management?

Digital rights management a.k.a DRM is a set of technology standards that enable the manufacturers of software applications, digital media to enforce access controls on their product(s), such as restriction on the usage, reproduction, modification, and distribution of the product.

Why is DRM tech used?

Software companies and digital media houses spend a huge chunk of their money and time in the research, development, and marketing of their products. However, in this age of technology and connectivity, it is not difficult for elements with illegitimate interests to produce and distribute unauthorized/pirated copies of the application/multimedia, which could otherwise, only be used through paying for it. The piracy results in a major revenue loss. There are several copyright protection laws (vary from country to country) that forbid such acts, but even they’ve failed to prevent piracy.

This is exactly where DRM comes into play. The various technologies that come under this category, establish mechanisms that make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to steal the product. It prevents unauthorized copying, distribution and the usage of the product, due to the access control it enforces.

What are the different types of DRM technologies used?

The various digital rights management technologies are as follows:

  1. Internet Connectivity Issues: Many DRM-enabled products require online authentication. However, when there’s a problem with the server or the Internet, there are problems with using the product.
  2. Bypass Methods for Audio and Video Content: The process called ‘ripping’ extracts audio and video files from DRM protected files, and puts them into DRM-free files. Thereby, the whole thing of protecting copyright fails here.
  3. Short product life for paying users: Mostly non-transferable to other technologies, platforms, and some are even gone forever after basic operating system updates, therefore leading to the product becoming unusable.
  4. Watermark Removal: Watermarks can easily be removed through third party software.
  5. Purpose Built Hardware: Often the protected content requires a specially built hardware to decrypt and show the content to the user, which is done in order to protect the decryption key. However, the system is prone to failure.
  6. Reference:
    Digital rights management: Wikipedia

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