[linux-elitists] defining DRM?

Greg Folkert greg@gregfolkert.net
Thu Jan 20 20:41:24 PST 2005

On Thu, 2005-01-20 at 17:12 -0800, Don Marti wrote:
> So here's my definition so far.  I'm sure it's full
> of holes.
> Digital Rights Management is any technology that
> selectively restricts and permits uses of a copy of
> a cultural work by the owner or authorized user of
> the copy.

DRM:Digital Right Management is a mechanism for a provider of electronic
or digital content, to restrict or control said content in the forms and
usage the provider wants to allow, in the way they want to allow it.

It can take the form of nearly anything, from a Parallel Port Dongle, to
a USB FOB to a super-sekrit usage code to non-standard content formats
to product activation (think Activating MS Office 2003 or WindowsXP).
Effectively these are "Containing and Marking" content, thereby Limiting
Fair-use and removing freedom of (paid) access.

From rom Microsoft's website (this one really ticks me off)

        Windows Media digital rights management (DRM) is a proven
        platform to protect and securely deliver content for playback on
        a computer, portable device, or network device. It's flexible to
        support a range of business models from single downloads or
        physical format delivery. The latest version of Windows Media
        DRM enables new scenarios and provides consumers even greater
        access to protected audio and video content

That is entirely PR Speak. It says nothing about restricting at all.

How about the site: http://www.drmwatch.com

The glossary they offer has an interesting definition of DRM:

        a system for protecting the copyrights of data circulated via
        the Internet or other digital media by enabling secure
        distribution and/or disabling illegal distribution of the data.
        Typically, a DRM system protects intellectual property by either
        encrypting the data so that it can only be accessed by
        authorized users or marking the content with a digital watermark
        or similar method so that the content can not be freely

Almost sounds like SCOG wrote that... nah, it is too good and a cohesive
well thought out statement.
John Walker (http://www.fourmilab.ch) has really good reading on the
whole issue. The article is far to long and too good to excerpt it, so
just go read it.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has a some good info on DRM
http://www.epic.org/privacy/drm/default.html specifically the
Introduction is very effective at defining DRM:

        Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems restrict the use of
        digital files in order to protect the interests of copyright
        holders. DRM technologies can control file access (number of
        views, length of views), altering, sharing, copying, printing,
        and saving. These technologies may be contained within the
        operating system, program software, or in the actual hardware of
        a device.

That is about all I have to say on this issue for now. I get all mean
and full of Piss and Vinegar when I start discussing this topic. Except
when I talk about ways to circumvent it.
greg, greg@gregfolkert.net

The technology that is
Stronger, better, faster:  Linux
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