Digital Restrictions Management. What is it about?

What is DRM?

A Digital Restrictions Management system is a technology built into an electronic product or service with the aim of limiting its range of possible uses after purchase. It is designed to limit users’ behaviour considered as inconsistent with vendors’ agenda.

  • DRMs restrict people from perfectly legal behaviours, like putting together a music mix, lending a movie to a friend or making a security copy for oneself.
  • DRMs worsen the digital divide for impaired persons. They might be prevented from changing a media format into one they can have access to. For example, publishers protested against the capacity of an eBook reader to electronically convert text into speech.
  • DRM are designed to be defective, limiting the possible uses that can be done of a product by its very owner.

The incompatibility danger

There is a huge range of reciprocally incompatible DRM technologies available on the market. This makes every single device potentially incompatible with the other, and every different data format locked to a specific product.
Digital media’s future is dependant from external events like a bankruptcy or a corporate decision, that can compromise at any time the readability of your book of your music.

The privacy danger

Digital Restrictions Management provides vendors and media publishers with access into our devices. They allow media corporations to have access to sensible data as books being read or music being listened by a certain user.
This easily leads to abuses, as the removal of unwanted contents. That happened in 2009 with George Orwell’s “1984” copies detained by Amazon Kindle’s users.

The danger for Arts and Creativity

Access to knowledge determine the opportunity to produce more creative work by inspiration. DRMs’ aim is to restrain access to existing material. This undermines innovation and brakes creativity.

European and national legislators should encourage an universal accessibility of culture, thus rejecting DRMs.

Sources: DRM, The strange, broken world of DRM, The EDRI papers, by FSFE. Distributed under a C.C. licence 3.0.