Talk:Digital rights management

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 Definition Legal and technical techniques used by media publishers in an attempt to control distribution and usage of distributed video, audio, ebooks, and similar electronic media. [d] [e]
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Renamed article and other mechanics

I renamed the article "Digital Rights Management" rather than "Digital Rights Management (DRM)", as the title should be just that: not the title and abbreviation. Under CZ capitalization conventions, it really should have been "Digital rights management", but I myself tend to break that rule.

Also, I redid the definition, since it was identical to the lead, and contained a citation, which are not used in definitions. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:34, 29 July 2008 (CDT)

Challenges of the topic

It's always a good idea to build the foundation before trying to put the roof on a house. One of your challenges will be defining DRM without a working definition of digital rights, or, even more fundamental, intellectual property rights. Copyright is one such way to claim such a right; it's not the only one. Note that there is an article name conflict between copyright and "copyrighting".

In any event, you may either need to expand copyright, or create an article on intellectual property/intellectual property rights before you can discuss managing the rights to something undefined. The existing copyright article appears to link only to book as a form of intellectual property. Since the major areas of controversy in DRM seem to be entertainment and software, it would seem appropriate to establish background for them.

Just in these areas, there are some interesting challenges. For example, if I buy a perfectly legal DVD of a movie in Japan, why don't I have a right to play it on my US DVD? I am running a perfectly legal copy of Windows XP; if I add hardware to my computer, is Microsoft interfering with my rights of use by requiring revalidation? Why? Why not?

Howard C. Berkowitz 17:34, 29 July 2008 (CDT)

Costs of DRM

I'm not sure whether or where it fits in here, or whether it belongs in Windows Vista, but there's quite a good analysis of the costs of DRM on a paper by Peter Guttman [1]. It is under a CC license, so we can take material from it freely. It is controversial, however, so for balance we might need some comment on the criticisms of it. Schneier's comments are at [2]. Sandy Harris 00:37, 4 August 2008 (CDT)

There is a cost associated with my adding hardware and being told I need to revalidate my Windows license. As I turn green, burst the seams of my clothing, and become covered with hair, the tailoring and barber bills have to be paid somehow. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:03, 5 August 2008 (CDT)

pointer to here from Cryptography article

See Cryptography#Digital_rights_management.Pat Palmer 04:32, 8 August 2008 (CDT)

Yes. I'm no expert on search engine optimization, but Larry Sanger suggested that Google appears to pick The Other Place because there are so many intra-wiki links. So, we want these to be symmetrical as much as possible. While cryptography is in flux, we probably want an "Applications", and/or in digital certificates, pointing to DRM.
There's very little on CZ about authentication and access control, and they are moving toward my front burner. At the moment, I'm wearing my sailor hat and revising compass, but there are some very interesting marine safety-of-life and navigation applications that might interest your students. Most boats carry emergency beacons that are activated by the boat sinking, but there is a very simple way to connect a GPS to the normal marine radio, so if you're doubled over in pain, you just need to hit the red button before collapsing, and the Coast Guard is going to get a distress message with your exact position. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:01, 5 August 2008 (CDT)


While I agree that DRM does enforce intellectual property rights, I don't understand why convergence of communications was removed. Both are applicable; some content providers insist DRM is necessary for them to make content accessible via the Internet. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:53, 7 August 2008 (CDT)

Edits in Process

I'm in the middle of adding pages to this article in regards to consumer attitudes/concerns. I filled in titles and will have updates completed by COB 8/15. Thanks for your patience -User:Ryan_Tarrant 16:05, 14 August 2008 (CDT)

Watch for duplicate references. When defining a reference use <ref name=AUTHOR> instead of <ref>, then you can refer to the same source again by using <ref name=AUTHOR />. --Anthony Schreiner 17:05, 14 August 2008 (CDT)


Current text includes : "DRM's primary function is to restore control over copying digital media .." No. It's primary purpose is to control access to digital media. Some systems do restrict copying, but many, such as CSS on DVDs, have no effect at all on copying. That system was not designed to prevent "piracy"; it's primary purpose is to control the market via region codes. The movie compamies often cite copying as the reason for CSS, but they are clearly lying. Also, there is no restoration involved; you cannot "restore" something that never existed, even if the industry wishes it had.

It continues: "... and to restrict access and content use beyond what is granted by copyright law." That is quite unclear. I suspect the writer meant "and to restrict access and content use to uses allowed by copyright law." I'd say an accurate statement would be "It frequently restricts access and content use in ways that go far beyond the restrictions in copyright law."

Any comments before I edit it? Sandy Harris 11:04, 18 December 2008 (UTC)


I've been almost the only one editing this of late. It needs more work, preferably from someone who knows more about law. Any law editors about?

Also, I'm very much a partisan of one side in this debate. It might need checking for neutrality. Sandy Harris 14:06, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Not sure, but lawyers may consider working on this as illegal.
Your point about access control rather than copy control is well taken. I will reread the article, but I'm not sure it's wildly nonpartisan -- it probably should link to an article on economic models of intellectual property. So far, the major proponents seem to be entertainment conglomerates rather than individual artists, but the pro-DRM artist positions should be stated. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:02, 27 May 2010 (UTC)


I just replaced the definition. Old one was "Refers to the laws and technologies which provide intellectual property owners control over the distribution and use of their digital property by defining consumers' rights in its usage". "Intellectual property" is in my view a dubious phrase in almost all cases. I object to phrasing like "intellectual property owners" and "their digital property"; it seems to me these are assuming debatable propositions as facts.

What really sent me over the edge, though, was "defining consumers' rights". Apart from "consumers" (rather than users, customers, ...) being questionable, "defining" is just wrong. These systems enforce restrictions or limit access or manage usage or some such. They do not define rights. Sandy Harris 12:49, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

I'd hesitate to do away with "intellectual property", simply because it's a reasonably well-accepted branch of law. As far as the rights, perhaps "enforcing copyright holder claims" is closer. "Copyright" may not be sufficient since some software patents or trademarks may be involved, so what umbrella term is available besides "intellectual property"? Is "claims" reasonably neutral since a challenge to a claim needs to be adjudicated? Howard C. Berkowitz 15:38, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
There is a big difference between intellectual copyright and commercial copyright. This articles does not seem to understand that: intellectual copyright does not expire, but the commercial rights attached to it do have time limits. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 11:11, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
What are you talking about? As far as I know, there's just copyright; your distinction appears imaginary. Of course if I quote Herodotus, I should give attribution, but that's a question of style and intellectual honesty. It has nothing to do with copyright. Sandy Harris 23:48, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
Sandy: just because a particular edition of Shakespeare's Tempest (for example) has become public domain, does not entitle anyone to remove Shakespeare's name from a republication or to claim the text as his/her own. Intellectual copyright is perpetual and cannot be transferred. Commercial copyright is sold to others, time-limited, shared, etc etc. This is a central element of copyright, which few understand. Usually, they start out as merged; however, university research usually requires (as a condition of employment) that the commercial copyright is vested in the university, and not even shared with its creator. However, the creator retains title for the discovery/creation but not the commercial usage. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 00:18, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

lack of primary legal sources

There needs to be more attention paid to legal texts, since law is a basic component of this article. I gave Sandy the legal reference to the Australian case on region coding, so that should be here (not just a consumer newsletter). Obviously, there is a problem with shortage of lawyers on CZ, but some more legal references should be possible. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 11:11, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

There are some there already. Feel free to add more, or to write an article on the DMCA if inclined to. I'd find it almost impossible to be anywhere near neutral there, since I consider it obviously the most idiotic piece of legislation in decades.
However, I'd say that, while legal and ethical issues should be and are mentioned, the main focus of this article should be on the technology of DRM itself. Of course there should be lots of links, both in the article and on the "Related articles" page as well.
The "consumer newsletter" I linked to was an official document from the Australian Competition Commission, I think a clearer statement of their policy and the issues than the court record. I once had an even better statement, in one of their director's speeches, but cannot now find it. If you have a legal citation, go ahead and add it. Sandy Harris 14:05, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
I shall add some legal refs. and clarifications. It is questionable how much focus should be on technology itself, since it is merely a means to an end - making money and asserting copyrights. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:04, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Good. I did ask for more legal material under #Contributors? above about a year ago. To me, though, the most interesting questions are neither purely legal nor purely technical; the two are intimately mixed here. Sandy Harris 00:00, 5 April 2011 (UTC)


The Guardian has a story on BBC attempts at DRM [3], "willing to give privileges to US TV companies they can't get at home". This needs adding into the article. Sandy Harris 03:28, 15 November 2011 (UTC)


Microsoft operating systems from Vista on have had DRM built in. A fine critique is [4]. Turns out some MS engineers predicted failure years ago in an internal memo which has now come to light. [5] Sandy Harris 00:02, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

e-book DRM

A good Wired article on defeating e-book DRM [6] Sandy Harris 14:46, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

"DRM for e-books: Repeating history, not learning from it" [7] argues that the music industry has learned its lesson and most music is now DRM-free, but e-book publishers are now making mistakes (DRM!) that music made a decade or more ago. Sandy Harris 22:38, 31 May 2013 (UTC)


Good stuff, should be cited in article. "The purpose of DRM is not to prevent copyright violations." "DRM's purpose is to give content providers control over software and hardware providers, and it is satisfying that purpose well."

"The only people who are stopped from doing anything are the player providers -- they are forced to provide a user experience that, rather than being optimised for the users, puts potential future revenues first (forcing people to play ads, keeping the door open to charging more for more features later, building artificial obsolescence into content so that if you change ecosystem, you have to purchase the content again)."

[8] Sandy Harris 01:21, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

A proposal at W3C tp introduce crypto into HTML 5, apparently mainly to support DRM. [9]
Good grief! That is so totally contrary to the basic ideas of the net. Sandy Harris 05:04, 21 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree with you that many aspects of DRM (and current and future internet directions) do not lead to more openness; quite the contrary. Hence, it may be important to try and write about them.Pat Palmer


Change things like spacing & punctuation in ebooks [10], not visible to the reader but it allows "pirates" to be tracked. Sandy Harris 15:13, 19 June 2013 (UTC)