Digital Rights Management
DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT (DRM) is a hot topic in the music and movie industries. In industries where piracy is a real worry, companies are trying hard to find ways of distributing content across the Internet without giving people unencumbered access to content that can be shared with an unlimited number amount of friends.
In order to prevent this, companies such as Microsoft and Apple have devised systems where music or movies distributed over the Internet can be restricted to where and when they can be played.
DRM is the automatic music police, it sits on your computer and if you want to burn the song on to a CD, it counts the number of times that a particular song or combination of songs has been copied to a CD. The policeman makes sure that only portable music players that conform to the rules set by the system are allowed to play the songs downloaded.
So a song bought from a music store that uses Microsoft’s DRM system, called PlaysforSure, can only be played on music players conforming to the PlaysforSure system.
Apple, which sells music, movies and TV shows through its iTunes Store internationally, but not in SA, has a system called FairPlay that provides a similar service but will only allow music to be transferred to Apple’s iPod range of music players.
The problem is that it’s simple to sidestep any DRM systems, and Internet activists maintain that it’s unfair to use this kind of technology that makes life difficult for all consumers while having no discernable effect on pirates.