Digital Rights Management Technology

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Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology was first presented in the late 1990s in order to prevent any post-sale sharing of digital data, including video, audio, literature, and software files. It essentially allows control over how customers access content.

However, since its introduction, there have been many issues of controversy surrounding DRM technology and its users. Some argue that DRM has created a “permission culture” since it prevents a user from reading an ebook on more than one device, despite a legitimate purchase. While DRM does support the anti-piracy movement, some believe it deprives customers the control to their purchased movies, television shows, and ebooks. In some cases, the consumer needs the copyright owner’s permission to play a piece of music both on a home computer and on a car stereo.

Tor UK, the science fiction and fantasy division of Pan Macmillan, recently reported that they will launch a 3-month trial to sell their ebooks without DRM technology. Tor UK president and publisher Tom Doherty writes:

“Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time…DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another.”

The switch will assure that readers can buy an ebook through Amazon and use on a Kindle, but also read on other ebook devices, such as Sony Reader, or with Apple’s iBooks.

Click here to read more about Tok UK’s decision to go DRM-free.

There are alternatives to using DRM technology that will still discourage file sharing. In 2011, JK Rowling chose to sell ebook editions of the Harry Potter series that are DRM-free. Rather than encoding the literature files with DRM technology, she added a digital watermark to discourage users from copying them illegally.

What is the future of DRM technology? What do you think the solution is to preventing piracy and ensuring copy protection for digital data?

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