DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It is a generic term used for access control technologies utilized by hardware manufacturers, publishers and copyright holders that impose limitations on the usage of digital content and devices. The abbreviation DRM is often expressed as “Digital Restriction Management” because of the way it stymies the usage of digital content and devices.

For example, Itunes DRM:

  • Restricts back-up copies: Song can only be copied to 5 computers
  • Restricts converting to other formats: Songs only sold in AAC with Apple DRM
  • Limits portable player compatibility: iPod and other Apple devices only
  • No remixing: Cannot edit, excerpt, or otherwise sample songs

With DRM: Consumers are goaded into subscribing to specific, singular music providers because DRM prevents cross-platform filesharing. For example, consumers cannot upload Itunes (Apple) music files onto their Creative Zen (Miscrosoft).

Without DRM: Music files (not to mention videos, games, kindle books etc.) would be completely unrestricted; capable of unfettered reproduction. This puts a huge amount of control in the hands of the consumers, who would be given much greater choice as to where they get their music but more importantly whether or not they are paying for it.

The age of vinyl, when the term “file-sharing” had yet to be uttered, is over. We are currently in the grey area between two extremes: a DRM or non-DRM controlled market.

This all raises an interesting question – “Can we ‘own’ the music we are buying?” For instance, a hallmark of ownership is the right to give away or sell your property. That’s called “first sale,” and it’s explicitly protected under copyright law, but DRM prevents this kind of activity in the interest of maintaining ownership rights…

It is a tricky maze of legislation to navigate.

To give a better idea of the argument at hand, here is a link to a video of a group of music industry panelists discussing DRM technology:


1 Comment »

  1. Tomasz Said:

    ok, but why don’t use something new – e.g. Social DRM, by your own.
    See more at YouTube:


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