Digital Rights Management

A few days ago on my other blog, I reviewed a new Internet product that writers might find useful. One of my readers commented and recommended My DRM (Digital Rights Management), leaving a link to a video on YouTube.

I think this may be something a lot of writers, artists, and musicians would be interested in. Of course, in the end it's practically impossible to protect your work completely, but I guess it makes us feel better to try.


This is an Internet site where you can sign your multimedia with invisible and inaudible ID in order to claim ownership of it. You can also add hidden comments into the signed multimedia files.

Digital Rights Management

In case you don't know very much about DRM, here's the gist of the subject. DRM is a generic term for access control technologies that can be used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals in an effort to place limitations on the way digital content and devices are used.

Generally, DRM describes any technology which inhibits uses (legitimate or otherwise) of digital content that previously had not been envisioned by the content provider. It usually doesn't refer to other forms of copy protection which can be circumvented without having to modify the file or the device, i.e., serial numbers or keyfiles. It also can refer to restrictions associated with specific instances of digital works or devices. Music production companies like Sony, Apple, etc. us DRM.

As with anything designed to limit use, DRM has its plaintiffs as well as its defendants. Those in favor of it say it's needed to protect copyright holders from unauthorized duplication of their work else the term starving artist will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In This Corner

Those opposed to it, for one example, the Free Software Foundation, say the word "rights" shouldn't be used because it's misleading. They want you to use the term "digital restrictions management." They think copyright holders restrict use of copyrighted material in ways not covered by existing laws, nor should such restrictions be covered by future laws.

Climbing On My Soapbox

Of course, all of us who create from our imaginations and depend on the resulting work to provide a living for us think those people don't know what the heck they're talking about. What they're really saying is just work your butt off for X number of years in writing books, music, etc. then just give it away to whoever wants to copy it for free, post it for free, turn around and make income off it some way that cuts the artist out completely.

I guess our only recourse would be to go on welfare if we can't make a living doing this or to just quit doing it and go get some other job since we can't earn a living from our words, art, or music.

Analog Hole

All of the popular DRM systems are eventually defeated some way or other because of the inevitable analog hole aka analog loophole. That's a term made popular by some of the members of the Motion Picture Association of America during legislative advocacy hearings in 2002.

The term created its own controversy after those in the industry started abbreviating it to "a. hole." you can probably understand the allusion without my explaining it. Now they call it analog reconversion problem or issue which doesn't roll off the tongue nearly as easily.

What Is It?

The analog hole is a fundamental vulnerability in copy protection for non-interactive works in digital formats. Those works eventually must be converted to a human-perceptible form, that's analog. Once in analog form, it's easy to then digitally recapture the work.

Back To The Soapbox

Would you go to your local Walmart and shoplift a book or a CD or DVD? Of course not. That's stealing.

If you go to a website and download a book or album that's posted there without the content creator's permission, then that's stealing too. You're taking food from the mouth of some hard working artist somewhere. Recognize that and teach it to your children.

Takeaway Truth

To earn from artistic efforts, the general population needs to respect the time and hard work spent in creating products from nothing but their imaginations and the energy in their brains. Recognize that copying without permission is stealing.

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