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Digital Rights Management or Digital Restrictive Management?

We are all accustomed to purchasing and/or using copyrighted material in one fashion or another. From music, movies-(BluRay), e-books-(Kindle), computers-(software), mobile phones-(iPhone) and games; the umbrella of companies wanting to restrict access to its products continues to grow and become increasingly restrictive.

Digital Rights Management (Source)

“Digital rights management (DRM) technologies are aimed at increasing the kinds and/or scope of control that rights-holders can assert over their intellectual property assets. In the wake of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) ban on the circumvention of DRM technologies used to control copyrightable works, DRM restrictions are now backed up with the force of law. In essence, copyright owners now have the ability to write their own intellectual property regime in computer code, secure in the knowledge that the DMCA will back the regime with the force of law.”

Investment Point of View

Digital Rights Management is a restrictive system enabled to protect the copyright and unlawful distribution on digital hardware or software produced by companies via an investment in technology through a business model. The restrictions placed on end users in copying and/or sharing protected material is essential in protecting the ROI (Return on Investment) of those entities producing digital content now and in the future. Without Digital Rights Management the argument constitutes that innovation and invention will suffer through piracy and stifle any future investment in producing the creative technologies we enjoy today.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Source)

United States copyright legislation, in conjunction with the World Intellectual Property Organization, criminalizes the production and dissemination of copyrighted technology, devices or services, thereby circumventing Digital Rights Management. The bill also heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet. The Act was passed on October 12, 1998 by a unanimous vote by the US Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998.

The law specifically addresses the encryption process used by manufacturers of copyrighted products or material to protect their rights. It is now unlawful to decrypt, disrupt, copy and share such products and/or material under criminal statutes provided by Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Free Speech Point of View

This view takes the opposite approach to copyrighted material in that it contending that basic rights of users are violated since copyright holders are able to use Digital Rights Management to enforce restrictions. It therefore infringes on the rights of users to implement fair use exceptions. There continues to be a belief that content owners will take precedent over the rights of users.

Fair Use (Source)

“Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work”


Whether it is the right of consumers to Free Speech or the right of producers to protect their products, the bottom line remains how can Digital Rights Management draw the line between the use and abuse of copyright infringement? It seems only logical that protecting copyrighted products and material is of utmost importance in the continued innovation and dissemination of new products. The music industry learned the hard way that alienating consumers can produce a backlash of which recovery is very difficult.

Microsoft learned early on that copyright protection was critical the growth and innovation of its products which turned out to be a great thing for Microsoft shareholders. We cannot believe for a minute that copyright infringement does not hurt us all in some way from the economical standpoint of higher prices, loss of innovation and creation of sustainable jobs.

By Leonard Grace, Founder & Editor - Broadband Convergent

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Automated surveillance is not fair in all cases Alessandro Vesely  –  Aug 25, 2010 6:24 PM

Copyrights are a difficult subject, because the second law states that it is not possible to wipe memory after something has been published.  You cannot get you info back.  You may only control the physical support on which you recorded it, if any.  As long as copyright laws concord with thermodynamics ones, they may make some sense.  Even if, apparently, innovation and creation most often flourish better in unencumbered environments.

In general, human laws that have been conceived having in mind some means for enforcing them, deserve to be revised when surveillance techniques evolve.  For copyright laws in particular, DRM limits the consumers’ ability to fully control their electronic equipment.  In that respect, it is unfair.  The day brain-protheses will be of common use, they’ll want to control my mind to grab my money—as regrettably is already common practice in the figurative sense.

Project Xanadu had theorized the possibility to use hypertext to automatically pay-per-use copyrighted material.  Although they strove for fairness, they didn’t cover spoken text.  Perhaps, money just cannot measure everything.  I have never used a Xanadu server, and appreciate how they keep right out of the way.  DRM should do the same.

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