What is DRM?


DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. The term refers to a series of technologies aimed at preventing the unauthorized transfer of software, music, games, and other electronic media from a legal user to anybody else. When one "purchases" DRM-enabled media, he is not purchasing the media itself, rather he is purchasing a licence to use the media. That licence can be revoked according to the terms of the licence, and is very often non-transferable. That means that DRM media purchased for use on one computer may not be compatible with an upgraded computer or operating system.

DRM was brought to mass consumer attention with the discovery of Sony's inclusion of rootkits in select music CD's, which had adverse effects on consumers computers who had played the CD's in question. Many consumers were forced to reinstall their operating systems, and much data was lost in the process. Several lawsuits have entailed, and DRM removal services have sprung up in the wake. However, the term applies to the removal of DRM-enabled media players and their components, not to the removal of DRM from media such as music CD's.

Proponents of DRM claim that the artists and programmers responsible for digital media should have the right to control the distribution of their work. Left unchecked, digital media can be reproduced an unlimited number of times- potentially hurting the creators by not ensuring proper payment. This is of course true, as has been witnessed on P2P networks such as Napster and Kazaa. Thus, one could reasonably argue that consumers have brought DRM upon themselves.

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