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The Digital Rights Management/Digital Copyright Millennium Act are a set of laws that help protect digital and electronic works. This LibGuide discusses the positive and negative effects of these laws.
Last Updated: Sep 15, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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E-books, mp3/mp4 files, digital movies and songs...all of these and many other electronic resources have emerged as premier choices for avid readers, gamers, and listeners in recent years.  However, there are laws that have also emerged to cover and protect authors, creators, and copyright owners from others who may pirate legitimate works.  One key set of laws is the Digital Rights Management Act, also known as the Digital Copyright Millennium Act.


Comments from the Peanut Gallery

"I am both a content generator and consumer.  I find DRM in its current incarnation to be distasteful."

"Any DRM scheme is broken within days of being released, so you are not preventing piracy. All you are doing is punishing the legitimate user of the material by making him jump hoops if he ever wants to use the material on a different device than the one he downloaded it on."

"It’s difficult to be in favor of DRM, as much as I’d like to be, because it’s so incredibly irritating."

"Proponents of DRM argue that it ensures continued revenue streams for rights holders in a digital age, and this is an argument that I believe has some merit."

"I do not honestly believe that adding DRM to my work would increase my sales."

"DRM makes things harder on legitimate users, not pirates."

"How to stop piracy:

1. Create great stuff

2. Make it easy to buy

3. Same day worldwide release

4. Works on any device

5. Fair price

6. Region Free"  (Kim Dotcom)


Pros and Cons

It seems in this day and age, piracy runs rampant over the Internet.  Companies think it's horrible; consumers think it's great.  What is the real story behind it all?  Protection of Intellectual Property is imperative for copyright owners, so important steps needed to be implemented to ensure that protection.



Explanation in Layman's Terms

Digital Rights Management (DRM) and the Digital Copyright Millennium Act (DCMA) developed as a result of new technology being introduced into the world in the 1990s.  Companies and copyright owners realized if they were to generate any type of profit on the sales of their book, game, or music, some type of copyright protection needed to be included, so that when a person purchased an item, the "warning label" would ensure the customer's complete cooperation.  The DCMA originated from the World Intellectual Property Organization (better known as WIPO), to safeguard the property rights by punishing those acts deemed "criminal;" meaning, anyone willing to pirate or steal a copy of the material or item would be severely penalized.  The DRM is basically a broad "weapon of choice," used to deter thieves and pirates from unlawfully using those items.  Various technologies are implemented as a deterrent to anyone willing to risk circumventing that copyright protection.



Good or Bad?

But the true question is, does the DMCA and DRM truly work?  Maybe the act might, but to hear your everyday person talk about it, they are not happy with the DRM's results.  Instead of "Digital Rights Management," many people feel it's more like "Digital Restriction Management."  DRM uses various tools, locks, blockers, and coding to prevent customers from illegally accessing their information or item.  The problem is, if the customer has already purchased the item, whether it is an e-book, a video game, or computer software, why are they prevented from accessing the information?  This is what has people "up in arms" about DRM. 


Shana E. Higgins

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Shana Higgins

Future Solutions

To date, the "battle of the blockage" is still ongoing.  Companies and copyright owners still use DRM, and materials and items are still being purchased and downloaded, legally and illegally.  There are many books, articles, and videos discussing this important matter, and you will find them on the other tabs in this LibGuide.






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