Understanding DRM: What Digital Rights Management Means for You

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As a content creator, you may not be aware of how DRM, or the lack of digital rights management precautions, can affect your business. Still, a basic understanding of digital rights management is important for everyone who sells digital products on the Internet, either as a content creator or a licensed third-party seller.

What is Digital Rights Management?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed in the United States, was designed to curb the rampant piracy and copyright infringement made possible on a large scale by the Internet. Under the DMCA, anyone facilitating downloads of protected goods can be charged with a criminal offense, up to and including jail time in the event of a conviction. This law also requires sellers to obtain the requisite licensing and sale rights before making digital products available for purchase, which is where DRM comes in handy. Not only does it help to prevent piracy, but also acts as a layer of protection for any company directly selling or facilitating the sale of digital content on the Internet.

For sellers who make their products available through content delivery services like PayLoadz.com or through their own websites, digital rights management is an important, although sometimes unpopular, merchant tool. Through DRM measures, content creators, copyright holders and merchants can control the level of access end users have to the content they’ve purchased, especially in terms of file sharing and pirating virtual products.

Applying DRM to Your Content

For smaller-scale content creators, PDF files are often the easiest to secure with digital rights management measures. PDF files can be encrypted to limit sharing, prevent alteration of source text and provide legal protection should a file be shared illegally. Still, digital rights management tools can be used to protect a variety of virtual products when it’s applied appropriately.

The purpose of DRM is the prevention of piracy and illegal sharing, not interfering with the experiences of law-abiding, legitimate purchasers. Because end user frustration with DRM in music has been widespread, the recording industry as a whole is beginning to move away from the practice of applying digital rights management measures to new releases. For content creators, it’s important to weigh the benefits of DRM against potential drawbacks when choosing a method of protection.

Some sellers may choose to include metadata with their media, which can record identifying information about the purchaser along with the creation date, author and publisher information. Digital watermarks can also be added during production, which records the chain of distribution and identifies the copyright owner of a particular file. While watermarking does not constitute DRM application in and of itself, it can be a valuable tool if a copyright holder chooses to pursue legal avenues to prevent or curtail piracy.

 

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