Modern Digital Rights Management Methods

Modern Digital Rights Management Methods

(May 2009)

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authors: Ben Anderson and Eric Renzulli

The authors analyze the effectiveness of modern digital rights management methods (DRM). DRM is employed with most digital works in some manner, for instance Google, Amazon, and ITunes limits the number of devices that access the digital content you purchase. It’s important to take a brief look at the legal standing of DRM:

  1. Copyright Act of 1976 –
    Offers protection of “original works of content produced on any physical medium” (7). The act provides the basic framework of the current fair use and copyright infringement laws. The act also greatly increased the length of copyright protection from twenty-eight years to a length that would outlive the author’s life.
  2. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1996) –
    The main reason for the act was to update copyright law to current world views and to address the problem of file sharing of digital copyrighted material on the internet.  The main application here to DRM was this act makes it illegal to circumvent copyright protection.

The major industries with historical use of DRM are movies, music, and games. The music industry has tried several DRM based models on their physical medium and on digital music. All of them have failed on a number of points and are a huge inconvenience to consumers. Furthermore, a few companies, which have build significant pull in the online industry of music distribution, such as Apple ITunes have shown the DRM-Free models work perfectly fine and have even allowed them to sell DRM-Free music at a higher premium price. The Game industry also have found that DRM fails to stop consumers from hacking the DRM and releasing their product on the internet without it. The game industry is slowly moving to an internet model for DRM similar to Apple’s ITunes, which is based on restricted download access and is also fairly transparent to the end-user. The Major player in this area is Steam, which provides game downloads secured by DRM based key codes.  The accessibility and transparency of Steam’s DRM has made them very popular for game downloads and the authors predict that they will eventually move in the same direction as Apple: offering DRM free game downloads.

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