DRM (digital rights management) technology is of growing importance as further exploration of the internet’s capacity for content distribution and commerce throws up ever more challenges.
DRM tools and systems are used for protecting content residing in the digital domain and for enforcing the rules for the use of the content. In a sense these tools represent for legitimate providers and users of content the same kind of support that ATM machines represent for retail banking services. They provide the basis for secure transactions and facilitate access to and use of content on the terms agreed via those transactions.
An important feature of advanced DRM tools and systems is that they hold the answer to the problem of peer-to-peer file sharing: combining their functions with file sharing technologies will enable content providers, if they choose, to deliver content through authorised file sharing networks.
These and a host of related issues are examined in depth in a new report produced by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) and written by Nic Garnett of The Simkins Partnership. The report, entitled ‘Digital Rights Management: Missing Links in the Digital Value Chain’ is available at here.
As its name indicates, the BSG is the private sector group which is assisting the UK Government with the implementation of its strategy for the deployment of broadband. The BSG set up a sub group to examine the issue of DRM and its impact on the availability of broadband content services.
The report looks in detail at the principles of DRM technology. It also examines a number of key commercial, technical and legal issues related to the employment of DRM technology. These include the availability of viable e-payment systems, the use of DRM in the public system and international developments connected with on-line distribution of content.
The report makes a number of important recommendations for action by Government and the private sector. These include a proposal that the UK government should sponsor a study of e-payment systems; that tougher and more effective measures against on-line piracy are required; that more work should be done to build out DRM enabled systems in the public sector; and that global standardisation of DRM components such as metadata and rights expression languages is essential.