Digital Rights Management software or software download protection program, used by many membership sites, download music and video sites.

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Meaning

DRM or Digital Rights Management is an industry standard program, that insures that copyright material available for download, is properly paid for, and utilized.

It is a complex program, where the end user must enter their provided for documentation, such as username and password, in order to use, view, or listen, to the purchased product, such as songs, videos, etc.

It is a form of restricting the end user, use of the supplied material.

DRM covers many different aspects of protecting the download from being copied, or shared with other computers, devices, even when owned by the same end user.

History

DRM has been around for a long time, just not entirely transparent enough to be noticed. Even the old style floppy disks had some form of DRM encrypted into them.

The BETA machines also had a form of DRM, which never took off.

A major problem associated with the use of DRM technology, is the code added to one's personal machines or devices. In some instances, this additional code has enabled security holes to be created, and exploited.

Sony for example had a major problem with such a situation, where it's DRM added a rootkit to the computer, which was able to be exploited by hackers. It resulted in a huge recall of Sony Music CD's.

Practice

When you purchase a song, or video, from some online retailers, or join a membership site where you get to watch their videos, you don't really notice the DRM, until you have downloaded something, and want to play it.

Apple ITunes for example sell single tracks off albums, with DRM for less than a buck, and some adult membership sites will allow you to download and view their videos as much as you want. (Apple began offering the same files to customers, without DRM, for the same price, as of October 17, 2007)

For As Long As You Pay.

Each time you want to watch the video from a paysite, you have to enter your username, password combination. The program then checks with the licensing site to verify it is correct.

If your membership has been blocked, expired, well that is it. You had your fun, and need to join again in order to watch any of the old videos you downloaded.

Some forms of DRM also prevent, and/or limit, whether you can copy the file off your machine to other machines.

Practice (Associated Acts): The basic DRM set up will set various limits on your use of the product you download.

It is these limits that create many end users to object to them, not just the inconvenience of having to constantly enter in a username/password combination.

Some will limit your use based on your membership to their site, or will limit your ability to transfer the files to another machine / device that you own. For example your desktop computer to your laptop.

Noteworthy: The concept of DRM is basically to protect the copyrighted material from being passed on, without the copyright holder receiving their proper remuneration.

Some membership sites are very anal about their videos, and are quite fine with 'members' being able to view and enjoy the material while a member. It is when their membership lapses, that they become upset if their content is still being used.

Arguments for and against, are numerous, as the end user believes that by paying a membership fee, they are entitled to use the downloaded videos or photographs or music, for as long as they want.

The flip side is that they view a membership as a rental type agreement, where you are only entitled to the benefits, as long as you pay.

An example is if you join a gym. You get to use the whirlpool, the sauna, the weights, but only as long as you pay the monthly membership fee. Once that membership lapses, you don't get to use them.

Another example is renting a video from your local video store. You pay them a fee, take it home, watch it as often as you want, for the time allotted, then you have to return it. You can't return six months later, pick up the video and take it home to watch again, without paying another rental fee.

Other meanings

Windows Vista has a version of DRM incorporated with its media player as well, that restricts the end user from using unsigned, or unregistered products on that computer.


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