Both Sides of DRM

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management.  These are encryptions put on digital media to prevent pirating of media, such as DVDs, Music, Blue Ray, and other forms of media.  The idea behind Digital Rights Management is that companies such as Microsoft place code in operating systems that scan for illegal file sharing on every computer windows is installed on.  On top of this the actual media has code installed on it that limits what a consumer can do  with the media.  For instance, Sony installed software in music, which it owns the copyright to, that would limit the ability to copy the files, on top of this  when the music is/was downloaded spyware was installed on the downloader’s personal computer which monitored the music that the person was listening to, and if the files were copied the operating system could be damaged or crash.

Today with the integration of television, computers, and the web, some electronic devices can completely stop working if the device thinks the user is illegally copying files.  This causes the device to permanently stop working.  Imagine buying a 62 inch television only to have the television stop working because the company that made the DVD you were watching didn’t like how you were watching the media.  One situation was that if a movie was paused for too long the hardware crashes because it thinks you are copying the files.

While DRM is an attempt to control piracy of content, rather than looking for the few infringements on copyright, the software simply blankets the industry with limits to prevent consumers from using files for personal use.  As one author put it, “DRM can prevent you from making back ups of your DVDs and music downloaded from online stores, recording your favorite TV programs, using the portable media player of your choice, remixing clips of movies into your own home movies, and much more.”

The flip side of the DRM argument is that companies have the right to make profits, many of these companies will do almost anything to do so.  Digital Rights Management technology simply makes it easier for an entertainment giant to limit the use of their content.  This limits what one can do with the material purchased.  For instance one can’t watch media purchased from one corporation on another corporation’s media player.

This argument of what a consumer can or should be able to do with media goes back to the creation of VHS, which was a read/write platform, consumers that own such devices could copy movies on to personal VHS tapes from television.   As the majority of people don’t have the slightest idea how to manipulate code embedded on discs, or files downloaded, unlike VHS, DRM makes those consumers less likely to copy and paste files, but doesn’t stop those that have the knowledge and drive to manipulate code to pirate certain files, leaving the everyday consumer frustrated at not having the ability to do with a product what one wants.

Gary Hitchins

http://www.eff.org/issues/drm

http://www.defectivebydesign.org/what_is_drm

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~ by garyhitchins on March 22, 2010.

 
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