Digital rights management

Digital “Rights” (a euphemism for ‘Restrictions’) Management, otherwise known as DRM, or sometimes IRM (‘I’ for ‘Information’) is about artificially restricting what a user can do with a digital file (such as a photo, piece of music or document). Sometimes it is explicitly mentioned, sometimes it will be implicit in features of software that claim to be able to restrict how someone else uses some data you give them.

As more and more of our lives is recorded entirely in digital form, it’s important that we are able to control and use files in meaningful ways. Unfortunately this sometimes conflicts with certain business models, or the desires of creators or distributors of content to reach out and control what you do even once something you have bought digitally (like a book or music file) has passed into your hands: for example to be able to remotely delete or modify it.

Back in early 2003 I wrote a popular piece called ‘The Fallacy of DRM‘ and I also wrote a  response to the 2004 European Commission consultation on DRM.

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