Digital Rights Management: Maneuvering through digital locks Introduction
In this day and age, it is almost impossible to survive without utilizing some form of technology for the purpose of performing daily tasks more efficiently. My laptop computer enables me with the ability to accomplish a variety of tasks, and downloading music happens to be one of them. For years, I have downloaded and burned music to audio CDs, and since the purchase of an MP3 player I have also been able to sync music to that device. Everything was going great until one day I attempted to make a mix CD of several songs, but when I tried to transfer the music files to an audio CD I noticed a lot of the songs returned an error message stating that I didn’t have the authority to copy or sync the file. This incident introduced me to Digital Rights Management (DRM), a technology used to control the access of digital content. Corporations have argued that DRM is necessary to fight copyright infringement online and keep users safe from computer viruses, and that the main objective of DRM is to help the copyright holder maintain artistic control and ensure that revenue streams remain unaffected. However, there is no evidence that DRM helps prevent copyright infringement or computer viruses. The proponents of DRM argue that digital locks are necessary to prevent property from theft, just as physical locks are needed to prevent virtual personal property from being stolen. I understand this point of view, but I think some of the policies that DRM enforce can inadvertently restrict a user from doing something perfectly legal. This could include: making a back-up copy of a CD or DVD, using copyrighted materials for research and educational use etc. In my opinion, DRM serves as a clever attempt to regulate access and limit reproduction of copyrighted digital media by end users, but as a consequence it can also pose as a barrier toward executing prevalent practices. In this paper I will report on the different devices in which DRM have been implemented, the laws that enforce DRM, the limitations behind DRM, arguments from proponents of DRM as well as arguments from myself & other opponents, and conclusions.
Music There are numerous DRM techniques being implemented on digital media today. These techniques include Restrictive Licensing agreements that can be imposed on consumers as a condition of accessing a website, encryptions, embedded tags, and scrambling of materials. ―Of the three major media industries – music, publishing, and video – music was the first to deal with the intricacies of DRM, mainly because songs are much easier to share over the internet in licensed and unlicensed systems‖ (Trivedi, 2010). On audio CD’s, discs containing DRM
schemes are not standard CD’s, but are more like a CD-ROM disc. Therefore, these discs will not play on all CD players because they lack the CD logotype found on discs which follow a standard known as ―Red book‖. This particular situation may pose barriers to many consumers by no longer allowing them to play the CD’s on their computers, and on PCs running Microsoft windows, the system would sometimes crash when trying to play the CD. ―Largely, consumers see DRM as an unfair block that prevents law-abiding purchasers from using content they paid for as they wish, but that allows people who downloaded content illegally to use the same works however they want.‖ (Trivedi, 2010). Should the consumer who rightfully went out and purchased the digital content be penalized by disabling their ability to make a back-up copy of their music? What if I wanted to make several copies of my music, allowing me to have 1 copy available in my car, 1 at work, 1 in my home sound system, and a copy synced to my portable device? ―Illegally-copied files are shared on peer to peer ("P2P") networks every day," and there are few, if any, DRM technologies that have not been cracked, sometimes within days of release."...
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