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Rights Management and
Payment Technologies
Digital Rights Management software is fundamentally concerned with the automated
management and assertion of intellectual property rights, and the secure delivery of
digital content.
A DRM system should meet the following seven tests:
1. Prevent or inhibit unauthorised use of content without unnecessarily
constraining authorised use;
2. Describe (or represent) the rights that the user has acquired in the content
(e.g. to print, to copy, to exchange) in ways that make it possible for software
and hardware applications to use the information to manage access;
3. Detail whether or when a licence in the content expires;
4. Make the barriers to use as transparent to the consumer as possible and
certainly only invoke restriction of use when conditions are not met;
5.Work effectively with different types of content;
6. Support different business models (e.g. pay per view, subscription);
7. Continue to allow `reasonable use' of content (e.g. for educational or
personal use).
DRM developers regard it as a rule of thumb that applications must be able to express
rights in secure, machine-interpretable ways.
While DRM has the potential to be restrictive in the extreme, content providers
should remember that the delivery of content is their raison d'être, and that consumers
will quickly go elsewhere if they feel they are being treated as suspects rather than as
valued users. Indeed, Digital Video Express (DiVX) failed because it made it too cumber-
some for consumers to access the content for which they had paid. As Mairéad Martin of
the University of Wisconsin
notes,`the needs of universities and libraries are different
from those of the business community, and the Internet's potential to enhance education
will be inhibited if current DRM plans and legislation do not take the needs of this
sector into consideration.'
Although DRM is the primary technology covered here, the reader should be aware
that there are other technologies currently in use that protect content in different ways.
These include visible and invisible water-
marking and steganography. In the former
case, marks are embedded in digital
objects that can be used to demonstrate
ownership and, in the latter, bits are
embedded containing information,
algorithms or transformations.We aim
to cover these technologies in a series
of short pieces in the DigiCULT.Info
Newsletter in 2004.
182 The increasing globalisation of content and transactions has led to the complication of digital rights
management. See Kim Nayyer,"Globalization of Information: Intellectual Property Law Implications" in
First Monday, vol. 7, no.1, January 2002:
184 Mairéad Martin,"Digital Rights Management in Research & Education" (2001):
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