Digital Rights Management is a term that is used to describe the practice of using access control methods to limit the usage of digital works and products according to policies as stipulated by the manufacturers and publishers for the specific products.
The phrase ‘Digital Rights Management’ doesn’t extend to other copyright protection methods for non-digital products and as such only applies to works in digital format and the usage of digital technology as access control method.
Digital Rights Management is still a rather controversial topic with parties on the one side arguing the need for such to protect the integrity of the work, right to compensation by the creator and the right to acknowledgement.
On the other end some parties argue that the term misleads and ensures more rights and limitations of usage than the creator is entitled to. According to these groups Digital Rights Management is extremely restrictive and should rather be called Digital Restrictive Management.
Digital Rights Management is also known by the acronym of DRM. It entails several methods to prevent unauthorised usage, copying, distribution, and profiting from digital media works. One of the earliest examples of DRM can be found in the film industry where DVD Forum deployed a method called Content Scrambling as an encryption method whereby the manufacturers first had to sign licence agreements before the products could be used for decoding.
Digital satellite television companies make use of special cards which the users must purchase to have access to their broadcasts. Digital Rights Management is often used by Internet music stores to prevent unauthorised downloading and usage of music.
iTunes Store for instance, requires the purchasing of the FairPlay DRM system made by Apple for the user to listen to and use the downloaded tracks.
Contact us at Smit & Van Wyk for legal assistance regarding the setting up and implementation of such systems to protect your digital media rights.