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DRM Explained: Understanding What Digital Rights Management Is

In this day and age, nearly all of our daily activities involve technology and the internet. We use it for recreation, entertainment, academic purposes, business, and many more. Seeing as the internet is so involved in our lives, many people use it to share or host their digital assets. This helps them gain access to a wider audience and expand the reach of these assets.

Sadly, putting your assets on the internet means that it is prone to several issues such as plagiarism, unfair use, and content theft among several other things. To prevent this from happening, many choose to invest in precautionary measures ahead of time. This includes something called DRM.

One of the first steps to utilizing DRM is knowing everything about it. Is it worth investing in? What are the methods involved? This blog post aims to answers any possible questions about Digital Asset Management. By the end of this article, you will know:

- The exact ways in which DRM can protect copyrighted material
  • - The benefits and disadvantages of using DRM
  • - How DRM can relate and work with DAM (Digital Asset Marketing)?

What is DRM?

DRM is a method used to regulate and control the way copyrighted material is shared or used on digital platforms. You may be wondering at this point, what does DRM mean? It stands for Digital Rights Management.

DRM exists to protect your digital assets from being illegally distributed or copied. If you are unsure of what this means, Digital assets are any type of material stored digitally or virtually. This includes things such as e-books, games, audio, videos, along with many other types of content that we utilize every day. They are most commonly protected by Copyright. However, in some cases, this isn’t enough.

These days, many content creators such as musicians, filmmakers, and authors fall victim to the unfair use of their material. Due to the significant advancements in technology throughout the years, the process of interacting with each other on digital platforms is easier than ever. People have access to certain resources and methods that allow them to replicate, distribute, or modify copyrighted content within a few simple clicks. DRM provides a solid wall of protection to prevent this from happening.

How Does DRM Work?

Those who pay for these assets are naturally the ones who get to maximize their features. However, users have come up with several ways to obtain the assets for free. Thus, Piracy remains one of the biggest issues that content creators find difficult to eliminate. This is why creators turn to DRM protection. In order to combat the increasing rates of theft and illegal distribution, innovative methods must be imposed to ensure that creators will always be one step ahead.

With how DRM is described, it comes off as a solution to issues that have already happened. In reality, it works to block illegal advances before they can become a threat. This is what makes DRM a reliable resource for protection. It enforces state-of-the-art codes and technology to regulate how the content can be used and who can access it.

Copyrighted material equipped with DRM is protected from:

  • Illegal documentation and distribution such as users sharing them via torrent websites, screenshots, screen recordings, and many more.
  • Use outside the designated area, meaning that the content will only be valid on certain regions, IP addresses, and devices.
  • Plagiarism, by including watermarks or other marks of ownership on the material to prevent users from printing or replicating them in other ways.
  • Use beyond the allotted time limit, only allowing users to take advantage of the material a certain number of times or during the period of its validity.

DRM Use Cases

Although you may not realize it, many of the features that you encounter while using your favourite applications are a form of Digital Asset Management. Mainstream media such as TV series, movies, books, and music are all copyrighted material that users can enjoy for a certain price. To shield this content from being used for unjust purposes, companies and creators use various forms of Digital Asset Management.

Below are some of the most common ways in which DRM is used:

  • - Blocking Documentation Methods or Software – Video streaming services such as Netflix are only accessible through a paid subscription. Users can take screenshots or screengrabs while enjoying the content. However, the results will only show a black screen once they have been saved to the device.
  • - Setting Limitations – Certain audio streaming platforms such as Spotify or The Apple iTunes Music Store set a limit on how many devices can utilize their services at the same time. For iTunes users, downloaded songs come with a history of their purchase and usage to ensure that only the valid devices can benefit from them.
  • - Eliminating Plagiarized Works or Copies – Digital Assets are prone to be replicated into counterfeit copies, often sold at a cheaper price. This prompt several forms of loss on the owner’s end, which is why they invest in DRM protection to trace these products and eliminate them swiftly.
  • - Maintaining User Privacy – DRM is a useful tool when it comes to upholding confidentiality. It can track which users have viewed the material and when it was last opened. It can also restrict its access so that it will only be available to users that have gained access directly from the owner.
  • - Security Services – DRM eliminates the possibility of users tampering with the asset’s software. One example is Microsoft, wherein they regulate access by imposing a special key that users must input before accessing their services. Microsoft specifically uses a feature called PlayReady, which blocks any unauthorized use of their products and software.

Pros of DRM

There are many reasons why companies and copyright holders choose to invest in DRM protection. Aside from protection, it also offers some benefits that owners would not be able to achieve on their own. Some of these advantages include:

Emphasizes Ownership

Many users grab copyrighted work and claim it as their own, taking the credit, praise, and even profits away from the original owner. This can be seen in content such as digital artwork, songs, e-books, and more. This is unfair towards the copyright holder, as many of them spend countless hours developing and improving these assets before they are even launched.

DRM protection is often equipped with advanced software that is able to scan through the internet and identify any form of work that bears resemblance to the original material. It resolves this issue and prevents it from happening by scanning virtual platforms for copies and taking them down.

Educates Users to Consume Content Wisely

Many of us are guilty of skipping the terms and conditions when we are making our accounts or purchasing something. The same goes for copyright policies. With DRM, copyright holders and consumers are provided with a direct mode of communication to each other. This way, consumers will know what they must do and what they need to avoid when using copyrighted material. Since DRM enables owners to track the consumers’ activity, they can also send out warnings or reminders whenever they detect suspicious activity taking place.

Minimizes Loss and Secures Profit

Counterfeit products are incredibly common in the online market. They profit off the works of other people, usually replicating their content with lower quality resources and selling them for a cheaper price. Unfortunately, many people choose to entertain copies instead of the original since they think it is a “good deal.” DRM quickly tracks these products and has them removed to ensure that copyright holders receive the credit and profit they are due.

DRM also works with large companies to prevent Piracy. Video and audio streaming platforms are one of the main targets of piracy since users can document the contents and share it with an unauthorized platform. This also happens with paid games and subscription-based applications, wherein they are cracked and shared for free on certain websites. With DRM, screen recordings and screenshots are often prohibited. The full services of an asset can also be limited only to those who are paying for it.

Maintains Confidentiality Between Owners and Consumers

DRM enforces strict methods to protect the privacy of users and owners alike. When it comes to providing and handling sensitive information on the internet, you must be sure that the platform you are transacting on is secure and free from threats. DRM makes sure that your information is completely safe, as it allows you to manipulate when the information can be accessed, where it will be used, and who can view it.

Cons of DRM

Although Digital Rights Management is a great resource to have on your side when it comes to guarding your property, it also comes with its disadvantages.

Limits Enjoyment and Causes Inconvenience

Seeing as DRM strictly monitors and controls how users can use the assets, consumers do not get to use the content in the way they want. There are times wherein users encounter certain inconveniences, such as not being able to make copies of documents for backup and personal use. Handicapped consumers also face the challenge of not being able to use a screen reader, since DRM often blocks the usage of third-party features of applications.

It is Not Piracy Proof

No matter how secure your DRM protection is, there will always be a way to crack it. This is why piracy is still a large problem among content creators and companies, even though many of them have already entrusted their digital assets to DRM. It is definitely invincible or impossible to overcome, as many unauthorized users are becoming well versed with the way DRM protection is programmed. This only means that DRM software must continue to improve moving forward to remain at an advantage.

How DRM Works with DAM

Digital Asset Management (DAM) enables all types of digital assets to be stored, organized, and optimized to secure the best performance. It basically works by taking all of your content and presenting it in a way that catches your audience’s attention. It highlights the value of your content and emphasizes its strengths. DAM sorts your content so that it is placed in one centralized location for easy navigation and access.

Both DAM and DRM were created for the same purpose: to provide seamless management of assets for copyright holders and companies. They help each other in terms of overall functionality as their features complement each other. DAM maximizes the appeal and accessibility of your content, while DRM ensures that it is being used fairly.

As your content begins to gain traction and popularity, it becomes a target for unauthorized distribution and replication. DRM saves you the trouble of dealing with litigation or copyright infringement issues. It also eliminates carbon copy and imitation content on the market, making sure that you get ROI for what you’ve spent and don’t suffer from unjust losses.

The Bottom Line

Digital Rights Management’s innovative features allow copyright holders to gain the maximum benefits from their assets by shielding them from unauthorized use. Eliminating these threats paves the way for more profit and assurance, allowing you to gain what you rightfully deserve from these assets.

While DRM has its own set of advantages to employ and challenges to face, it can still be considered a valuable investment when it comes to protecting your digital assets. With the improvements that consistently occur in today’s technology, it’s likely that DRM will become more stable and secure in the years to follow.


We aim to assist all content creators and copyright owners in protecting the rights of their hard work and investments. We want to serve as a valuable asset to your content marketing operations through the use of our collaborative and efficient software. As a trusted company that has been in the industry for over 30 years, we are confident that we can provide the services you need and deserve. If you are interested in working with us, contact us today. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

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