Digital Rights Management

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Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to a range of technologies intended to control the distribution of digital content. Styles and implementation of DRM vary significantly. Strong DRM may include a proprietary program required to view a file. This limits the user's ability to copy the file or view it on other computers. Amazon.com's Kindle system employs this kind of DRM.[1] A more typical form of DRM would be an authorization system that may use an internet connection to confirm validity of a software or content license with an external server, as is the case with many computer programs that require a serial code or CD key.[2] One of the least intrusive forms of DRM is a digital watermark. Typically the watermarked file will have no software lock that stops a file from being copied or used multiple places, but the copied files themselves include information that identifies the intended user. Ideally, the content producer could use this information to track the source of distributed files and prosecute violators. This system is currently employed by Apple's "DRM-free" iTunes content.[3]


For more information, the HowStuffWorks.com entry on DRM is quite detailed.


Sources

  1. "Downloading to Multiple Devices," Amazon.com Kindle Help. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630#multiple Accessed January 6, 2010.
  2. "Microsoft Genuine Advantage Program Information," Microsoft.com. http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/ProgramInfo.aspx Accessed January 6, 2010.
  3. "iTunes Songs Don't Have DRM, But They Contain Your Email Address," Techdirt.com. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090113/0707133391.shtml Accessed January 6, 2010.

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