Dig­i­tal Rights Man­age­ment

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & technology - BENE­DICT KELLY

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.

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