Digital rights management: what is it and how it works

Digital content has been rapidly increasing, making it essential to protect the digital assets of creators and owners.  Digital Rights...
25 May 2023

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Digital rights management: what is it and how it works

Digital content has been rapidly increasing, making it essential to protect the digital assets of creators and owners. 

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a set of technologies and methods used to control access to digital content and protect it from unauthorized use, copying, or distribution.

In this article, we will explore what Digital Rights Management is, how it works, its history, its benefits, and some examples.

What is digital rights management?

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a technology that enables content creators and distributors to control the access, use, and distribution of their digital content

DRM is often used to prevent unauthorized copying and distribution of digital content such as music, movies, e-books, and software.

Digital rights management: what is it and how it works

How does DRM work?

Digital Rights Management uses encryption and decryption algorithms that control access to digital content. Encryption is the process of converting digital content into a code that authorized users can only read. 

Decryption, on the other hand, is the process of converting encrypted digital content back to its original form, allowing authorized users to access the content.

Neurorights: are they the same?

Neurorights, also known as neural rights, are a set of rights and protections for individuals concerning their neural data. 

Although similar to DRM, neurorights are focused on protecting the privacy and autonomy of individuals concerning their brain data, whereas DRM is focused on protecting digital content from unauthorized access, use, and distribution.


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The History of Digital Rights Management

The history of digital rights management (DRM) can be traced back to the 1980s when the first copy-protection systems were developed for software programs. 

However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that DRM gained widespread use with the advent of digital media such as music, movies, and e-books.

The recording industry was one of the first to adopt DRM in the late 1990s with the introduction of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) in 1999. SDMI was a collaborative effort between several major music companies and technology firms, aimed at developing a standard for secure digital music distribution. 

The goal was to prevent unauthorized copying and distribution of digital music while still allowing consumers to access it in a convenient and user-friendly manner.

Since then, DRM has been widely used in various industries to protect digital content from piracy and unauthorized use. 

Its effectiveness, however, has been a subject of much debate, with critics arguing that it can limit consumers’ rights and freedom to use digital content in the ways they see fit. 

Nonetheless, DRM continues to be an important tool for content creators and distributors to protect their intellectual property rights in the digital age.

Neurorights, also known as neural rights, are a set of rights and protections for individuals concerning their neural data.

Digital Rights Management examples

Some of the biggest companies use Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems to protect digital content from unauthorized use and piracy. Here are some examples of DRM systems that are currently in use:

  1. Apple’s FairPlay: Apple’s DRM system is used for digital media on iTunes, including music, movies, and TV shows. FairPlay allows users to play their purchased content on authorized devices, making sharing content with others difficult.
  2. Amazon’s DRM: Amazon uses its own DRM system to protect Kindle e-books. The system allows users to purchase and download e-books, but restricts the ability to share or transfer them to other devices.
  3. Microsoft’s PlayReady: PlayReady is used for digital media on Xbox and Windows devices. It allows content creators to control how their content is used, by enabling them to set restrictions on how many times a piece of content can be played or how long it can be accessed.
  4. Adobe Digital Rights Management: Adobe’s DRM system is used for protecting PDF files and e-books. It allows content creators to control how their digital content is distributed and accessed by enabling them to set restrictions on how many times a piece of content can be printed or how long it can be accessed.

These are just a few examples of the many current DRM systems. While DRM can be effective in protecting digital content, it has also been criticized for limiting users’ rights and making it difficult to access and share content in a convenient and user-friendly manner.

Benefits of Digital Rights Management

Digital Rights Management (DRM) has various benefits, making it an essential tool for protecting digital content. Some of the benefits of DRM are as follows:

  1. Protecting digital content from unauthorized access, use, and distribution: DRM enables content creators and distributors to control access to their digital content. It uses encryption and decryption algorithms to ensure that only authorized users can access the content, protecting it from unauthorized use and distribution.
  2. Ensuring that creators and owners receive compensation for their digital content: DRM enables content creators and distributors to set and enforce pricing and usage rules for their digital content, ensuring that they receive fair compensation for their work.
  1. Providing consumers with access to high-quality digital content: DRM ensures that digital content is of high quality by preventing unauthorized copying and distribution, which can lead to the degradation of the content.
  1. Encouraging innovation and creativity by protecting the intellectual property of creators and owners: DRM protects the intellectual property of content creators and owners, encouraging them to continue creating and distributing digital content, which, in turn, drives innovation and creativity in various industries.

Summarizing, DRM provides critical benefits for both content creators and consumers by protecting digital content, ensuring fair compensation for creators, providing access to high-quality content, and promoting innovation and creativity.

Digital rights and responsibilities

Digital rights and responsibilities refer to the ethical and legal issues surrounding the use of digital content

Consumers have the right to access high-quality digital content, but they are also responsible for respecting the intellectual property of creators and owners. 

Creators and owners have the right to control the use and distribution of their digital content. Still, they are also responsible for ensuring that their content is accessible to consumers.

DRM uses encryption and decryption algorithms that control access to digital content.

How to successfully manage digital rights?

The exercise of the rights of individuals applicable in digital environments can be carried out directly by the affected person or through a legal or voluntary representative, directly addressing the data controller in question. 

If the affected person is under 14 years of age, the holders of parental responsibility may exercise their rights on their behalf and representation.

In this sense, the following considerations are established regarding the data controller: 

  • They must inform the affected person of the available channels to exercise their rights, which, on the other hand, cannot be denied. 
  • They must faithfully attend to requests and carry out the requested actions. 
  • They must demonstrate that the changes have been made. 

As a responsible party for digital rights in your company, you must take necessary measures to ensure that they are respected in all areas through measures such as implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Being very aware of the importance of protecting the privacy and security of your customers, we have developed a series of proctoring products focused on creating secure contexts in which the digital rights of individuals are respected.

Request a free demo so we can explain in detail the remote monitoring solutions we can offer you.


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