What is DRM and How Does DRM Work

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All the time, DRM contents have aroused people's attention with the vigorous development of digital products. Its existence also makes everyone argue endlessly. The adversarial relationship between digital content providers and consumers hasn't been remitted. More and more consumers who suffer much from DRM trend to use crack software such as Epubor Ultimate to control digital contents freely. Today let's talk about DRM around and find out why we must resist DRM.

What is DRM?

From my point of view, also the view of most people, DRM represents Digital Restrictions Management. Even though some people think the abbreviation of DRM comes from Digital Rights Management which is a widely used approach to protecting copyright on Music, TV play, Movies, Games, Books etc. DRM goes beyond Copyright. From another angle, DRM on these daily used objects always can be a restriction for us. And the DRM products just like a good which intentionally damaged by those providers.

Aren't these objects such as eBooks or music we bought from distributors belong to us? Why are there so many limitations after we paid so much? Think about these questions. We all be restricted when using the products we bought with each penny. And you will find the necessity of Digital Rights Management which attached to products from those sanctimonious distributors does not look so reasonable. Rather, the deep meaning of DRM represents Digital Restrictions Management.

How Does DRM Work?

As a matter of fact, DRM deprives the usage control of the person in owning digital contents and makes a computer or a procedure to take over the right of control. And it is composed of four comment stages which are packaging, distribution, license-serving, and license acquisition.

Stage 1 is packaging which is to plant the DRM encryption keys into the digital material, such as software, eBooks, and media.
Stage 2 is the distribution which is sending DRMed files to customers via web server downloads or sending emails.
Stage 3 is license serving where specialized servers authenticate legitimate users through an Internet connection, and enable them to access the DRM files. Thus, license servers lock up the files when illegitimate users try to open or copy the files.
Stage 4 is license acquisition which designed for legitimate customers acquire their encryption keys to unlock their files.

For example, when you bought a software with costs, if you want to use it, the most widely used license serving will appear according to the service provider. Generally, the access key must be tied to one machine, device or account. Others can't get the right to access the contents when they don't purchase them or transfer the original contents.

Industries Using DRM

As a profound term, DRM can be used to control the limits of authority among many objects. Those projects such as software, eBooks, images, stream media, mobile contents, etc. are implanted DRM by embedding code that prevents the spread even though it's legal.

Music--Music industries planting DRM into CD to confuse the ripping software. Internet music store employed DRM to restrict usage of music purchased and download.

Movies--Movie studios employed DRM system on its DVDs to limit the number of copies a user can make. Sometimes, it even restricts the DVD playing device by license.

TV--Some cable television providers in the United States use DRM to restrict from content to service to which the customer has subscribed.

Mobile Phones--The mobile phone manufacturers, system manufacturers, network operators and information technology companies employ a DRM which provide a method for content creators to enforced limits on the use and duplication of their content by customers.

Games & Software--The software or game companies design the DRM to prevent the use of the product for people who have not bought the license. If you purchase electronic copies of games from Steam, you can't sell them or share them with a friend after you're done playing them. If you so much as try, Steam will disable your account, which takes away your entire game collection.

eBooks--DRM is employed many online bookstores as a wrapper around the actual eBooks, or as part of as part of the package of the eBook itself. The DRM prevents consumers from opening the file unless their device or software has the correct key, and most DRM also locks other features of the eBook even for valid owners, such as printing and copying content.

Disadvantages of DRM

DRM Reduces Sales

Compared with DRMed eBooks, people prefer to buy DRM-free eBooks. According to a survey of XYZ, a large sample of users confirmed that "Sell-through or buys-per-click from publishers with DRM for the same book is 20% less" and "50% won't buy DRM-protected books". According to this survey, it can be concluded that most of the readers will refuse to buy books that are DRM enabled if there is a DRM-free book for they to choose.

No Access to Bought Contents

Situation 1: Change eReader, lose your eBooks

One situation is that if you purchased an eBook from Amazon, you cannot read this eBook on your Kobo eReader. You have a Kindle Paperwhite and bought a lot of eBooks from the Amazon store over the course of a year or two. Day after day, the device starts to get old and needs an upgrade, you decide to purchase a Kobo as a replacement device. Once you get the new Kobo, you will find that the DRMed ebooks you purchased from Amazon will not be able to transfer to your new Kobo device. This kind of lock-in does not happen in the print world because your bookshelves don't care where you buy a book. This kind of eBook loss is very frustrating to eBook consumers.

Situation 2: DRM server down, lose bought contents

Most of the DRM system is in need of authentication with an online server. It will cost a lot to run a DRM system. You'll need an online server to give you an access to the bought contents. Or alternatively, you'll need to rent these services from somebody. It's a significant overhead. In the long term, you have to maintain this server indefinitely, otherwise, your customers will lose the eBooks they purchased. If somebody else is supplying the DRM server service to you, they have to maintain it indefinitely, or the same consequence.

On 30 January 2017, Shelfie announced that it would shut down its online store and remind its users to download their book before 31 January 2017. This means that users only barely have a day to rescue their purchase. Here is the announcement "Our servers will be shutting down on January 31. You can re-download any DRM-free books between now and then. You no longer have access to DRM (.acsm) books." It is obviously showed that if the server down, the DRMed eBook will forever disappear, but the DRM-free eBook will always convenient for the user to download. What a shame of the DRM.

On Fri, Sep 26, 2008, Walmart Music Team sent a letter to all users about shutting down its DRM server. This action put any DRMed songs bought from them into a cold stasis which they will never wake up since they will become totally unmovable unless you circumvent the DRM of these songs.

In March 2013, JManga announced that they were closing down and advised all customers that they would lose all access to their content in May 2013.

DRM does not protect users' Privacy

DRM system do not pay much attention to protecting user's privacy. Usually, if users want to purchase content or subscribe to read an eBook, users may need to register with their personal information. What's more, the content provider also collect users' identity information to track whether they violate the usage right.

WM-DRM utilize a globally -unique identifier to track consumers. FairPlay DRM use a unique hardware identifier for the consumer's device to restrict the consumer's usage of the content on less than 5 computers. Even more, some DRM even can collect the consumer's playing statistics and send them to a license user without the user's permission.

Amazon remotely deleted the book "1984" and "Animal Farm" from the users' Kindles without permission. It is more than "It illustrates how few rights you have when you buy an e-book from Amazon," said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for British Telecom and an expert on computer security and commerce. "As a Kindle owner, I'm frustrated. I can't lend people books and I can't sell books that I've already read, and now it turns out that I can't even count on still having my books tomorrow."

DRM Systems Cannot Recognize Fair Use Rights

The statutory and Common law interpretations of copyright law afford individuals "Fair use" rights. Fair Use allows individuals to interact with content to promote cultural production, learning, innovation, and equity between content owners and consumers. Fair Use provides a defense to individuals who engage in an unauthorized use of protected content. No DRM scheme developed affords users these rights. If the digital good is bound to your device in some way or another, it becomes useless if your hardware crashes irrecoverably. In such cases, you should pay again for something you have already bought.

DRM cannot decrease piracy

There is a wrong understanding on DRM can decrease the quantity of piracy. On the contrary, DRM version only can be pirated more times than the DRM-free version. For example, after Witcher 3 was released, CD Projekt Red which is the makers of Witcher 3 discovered that the DRM-protected disk version was pirated more times than the DRM-free version sold by online download.

The Law of DRM

The most famous law of DRM is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which released a clause about the ban on "circumventing" digital rights management (DRM) and other "technological protection measures" that was signed in by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998. This clause is criticized by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which is one of the famous anti-DRM organization. EFF thinks the merchants will take advantage of the DMCA to against consumers, scientists, and legitimate competitors rather than withstand copyright infringers.

In January of 1999, Sony sued Connectix over PlayStation emulator which bring convenience to consumers to play legit games. In 2001, 321 Studio's DVD X Copy software which aimed to help consumers to back up their own DVD movies was involved in a legal battle with Hollywood studios. 321 Studio thought that the attempt to stifle this software is a violation of free speech under the first amendment, and thus is unconstitutional. Finally, 321 lose this battle and the California court deemed 321 Studio was banned from selling their DVD X Copy software. In August 2004, the 321 Studio was shut down.

"The U.S. Library of Congress in 1999 conducted a rulemaking on the DMCA anti-circumvention rules that recognized the right of lawful users to circumvent broken access controls and assess software-filtering programs." ---------"Digital Rights Management {and, or, vs.} the Law" by Pamela Samuelson.

DRM-Free Works

In spite of the widely use of DRM in different kinds of products, there are also many companies find out that if you provide DRM-free goods the sales volume can be increased according to their practice. Those companies which have the courage to release DRM-free goods finally get favored and respect from consumers and achieve new records of sales volume.

There are many sites provided DRM-free products and they get a good retribution. For example, GOG.com which is an online games store states that they only sell DRM-free games today, tomorrow, and forever. This statement clearly becomes an attractive point for an anti-DRM crowd. For example, as of 9 June 2015, GOG.com takes up the second place on Witcher 3 distribution by insisting on keeping the Witcher 3 DRM-free.

According to the July 2014 Author Earnings Report, the indie titles without DRM sell twice as many copies each, on average, as those with DRM. This result based on the research about the average daily earnings of DRM-free titles to DRM titles at each pricing cohort was totally trustworthy. From this report, all people can find out that the DRM-free eBook sales were higher than the DRM eBook sales.

On February 6, 2007, Steve Jobs released an open letter to the public, which said, Apple Inc. has come up with a conclusion that DRM can't guarantee the songs bought from big record companies are not pirates. Therefore, Apple Inc. is willing to completely abolish DRM technology so that all MP3 player can play any music bought from any online music store. At the same time, using DRM technology can lead to leakage of privacy information. So Apple Inc. also called on the major record companies to stop using DRM technology.

Bill, chairman of Microsoft, during an interview in March 2007, also made it clear that he's disappointed at DRM. He thought that DRM let those legitimate music consumers suffer and did not play a role in preventing piracy. "DRM did not do its job". What upsets those download paid music consumers is that the music downloaded from iPod music store iTunes are protected by DRM and cannot play on SanDisk, innovation or Microsoft Zune player.

However, Sony BMG, the four biggest record companies in the world, was the last to join the de-DRM organization and officially announced that they wouldn't provide records with DRM protection on January 6, 2008. A month ago, Warner Music Group had already announced that they would sell music without DRM through Amazon online store. And EMI and Vivendi's Universal Music Group had already said goodbye to DRM in early 2007.

That was a big progress for anti-DRM. Also after download Amazon music, the consumers will find the MP3 files are DRM-free.

Sill for Amazon, the owner decided to provide DRM-free comics in Comixology which is owned by Amazon since July 2014. The comics purchased from Comixology were DRM versions before the time. This measure can be another step in taking comics further.

As long as companies have the best products, consumers are willing to pay for your products. Think about a few large companies such as Amazon. They admit the products they offered are the best. If they have the best goods, there is no need to put DRM into their products and make trouble for consumers. Take heart of grace and the consumers will give you the best answers and the companies will not be disappointed.

Organizations and notable persons fight against DRM

As we can see, DRM is designed to restrict all of the possibilities enabled by digital technologies. In another word, DRM is taking away every possible use of digital media, regardless of legal rights, and sell some of these functionalization back as severely limited services. Therefore, many organizations, prominent individuals, and computer scientists are opposed to DRM.

One of the famous organization is Free Software Foundation which is founded in 1985 to support all aspects of the free software movement. Defective by Design is an anti-DRM initiative by the FSF. The Defective by Design believes that DRM is designed to be deliberately defective, to restrict the use of the product. Therefore, this group's goal is "big Media, unhelpful manufacturers, and DRM distributors", and bringing public awareness of the issue and increase participation in the initiative.

It represents one of the first efforts of the Free Software Foundation to find common cause with mainstream social activists and to encourage free software advocates to become socially involved. This group also encourages used to using the tagging feature of Amazon.com, Slashdot and on other sites that allow tagging, to make certain products with the "defective by design" tag.

It also launched a campaign in 2006 with an anti-DRM protest at WinHEC. From then on, the campaign has launched a number of actions with varying degrees of success. DefectiveByDesign.org proclaimed October 3, 2006 to be a "Day Against DRM", and organized several events outside key Apple stores in the US and the UK.

Two famous DRM critics are John Walker who wrote "The Digital Imprimatur: How Big brother and big media can put the Internet genie back in the bottle" and Richard Stallman who wrote "The Right to Read". Stallman even believes that "rights" in "Digital Rights Management" is misleading and suggested to use " Restrictions" as an instead. This terminology has been adopted by many other writer and critics from then on.

There are also many other notable critics of DRM, including Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University. He is a header of a British organization which opposes DRM.

Call for Anti-DRM

Many people think that supporting removal DRM means supporting piracy. The truth is not the case. This idea is also an insult to the basic consumers' right of ownership and privacy. Actually, DRM is ineffective in stop piracy because it can often be cracked and missed its original goal. In another word, even a kid can decrypt an Amazon eBook with Epubor Ultimate software within 2 seconds. The vendors who use DRM in their products should remember that people buy a product do not mean they are going to distribute them.

And we also believe that with the development of science and technology, more and more new electronic equipment are launched, DRM-free products can get more living space. One day a kind of technology which can both to protect the copyright and do not give consumers any using trouble will appear, but definitely not the present DRM technology. DRM doesn't be used to against copyright infringer, but instead against consumers, scientists and legitimate competitors. Consumers should not pay for the present defective DRM technology. The action of anti-DRM is carried out for the convenience of everyone's life.


joined Epubor since 2017. She always wants to share everything related to ebook reading and improve your reading journey.

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