“DRM is anti-piracy technology used
by digital copyright owners to
control who gets to access and copy
Intention of DRM
While it is advertised as a mechanism to
prevent copyright infringement, DRM is actually
designed to restrict all of the incredible
possibilities enabled by digital technologies and
place them under the control of a few, who can
then micromanage and track every interaction
with digital media.
When a program is designed to prevent
you from copying or sharing a song,
reading an e-book on another device, or
playing a single-player game without an
Internet connection, you are being
restricted by DRM.
Digital Rights Management
Industry supporters refer to it as "digital
rights management," as if to suggest that
users should be powerless and relinquish
their ability to decide how they can use
and interact with their media.
Purpose of DRM?
DRM is designed to take away
every possible use of digital
media, regardless of legal rights,
and sell some of these
functionalities back as severely
Delivers Severe Restrictions
DRM is a mechanism to enforce severe
restrictions on users' media that would
otherwise be impossible, so DRM is
about restrictions, not rights.
DRM creates a damaged
DRM concentrates control over
production and distribution of media,
giving DRM peddlers the power to
carry out massive digital book burnings
and conduct large scale surveillance
over people's media viewing habits.
NOT about limiting
If DRM existed only to prevent unauthorized
sharing, every distribution method for that
particular piece of media would have to be
distributed by an un-crackable DRM-
encumbered distribution platform, which is
impossible on its own.
DRM vs. Copyright
• restricts who can distribute media • restricts how users can access their own
• provides leverage against illegal
• provides anti-features (features that
exist only to worsen the service for users)
and charges for their removal
DRM Prevents Choices
– DRM is only possible by keeping some parts of a
computer secret from users and unmodifiable
– DRM invites a future in which nobody has any
control over their devices, and can only access
media through DRM-encumbered distribution
DRM Limits Authors &
DRM is usually embedded and sometimes even
has a specific time period that limits content
accessibility in some way.
DRM also puts a limit on the platforms where
author’s e-books can be sold and distributed.
Which formats support
– sometimes DRM is built into
software and not part of a file
– file formats that support DRM
do not necessarily require it
DRM-Free Audio Formats
– Opus (.opus)
– Vorbis (.oga; .ogg) for general use
– FLAC (.flac) for lossless
– Speex (.spx) for speech
DRM-Free Video Formats
Common DRM User
Experiences• You are using a WMA file;
• You need specific software or specific music player hardware to play
• You are limited to how many times you can download;
• You are limited in number of hours/days you can download;
• The number of different computers you can download to is limited;
• The number of times you can burn a CD is limited;
• You need a special password and/or logon ID before you can play the
• You need to reply to confirmation emails before you can play the file;
• In some instances, AAC files have DRM locks.
Users should have control
over their own media, not be
left at the mercy of major
media and technology
DRM encryption keys are built
right into the software, the
music file, or the movie file.
DRM-encrypted files are
delivered to the customers.
This is usually through web
server downloads, CD's/DVD's,
or via files emailed to the
DRM License Serving
Specialized servers authenticate
legitimate users through an Internet
connection, and allow them to access
the DRM files.
Simultaneously, license servers lock up
the files when illegitimate users try to
open or copy the files.
DRM License Acquisition
acquire their encryption
keys so they can unlock
DRM-Free Case Study
– J.K. Rowling is one of the more successful
publishing stories of going DRM-free.
– Not only did Rowling completely exclude
DRM with Pottermore, but she also built a
direct sales channel.
– These two things paired together tell her
loyal readers that she trusts them and wants
to make sure not to exclude any kind of
DRM In Coffee
Keurig 2.0 Brewers
– Keurig makes a fortune in refillable “K-cups,”
filled with coffee grounds that feed their line
of single-serving coffee brewing machines
– new line of “Keurig 2.0” brewers will only
work with officially licensed K-cup refill packs.
– every K-cup will come equipped with an RFID
sensor read by the brewer, locking out third-
Mozilla Accepts DRM
The fact that Mozilla, in opposition to its
mission, had to prepare and design this
feature in secret without being able to
consult the developers and users who
make up its community is an indication of
how much of a contradiction DRM is in a
pro-user open-source browser.
Mozilla is a not-for-profit social enterprise with a mission to free its users –
so it’s not unreasonable to hold it to a higher standard than commercial
rivals. Photograph: Mozilla
Mozillians have already been warned of
the danger of talking too much about
how DRM works (and doesn't work),
lest they trigger the provisions in the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(DMCA) that forbid "trafficking" in
Personal computing is:
Becoming a sector dominated by established
Produces locked-down devices, monitored and
managed by everyone but their users.
By Cory Doctorow
• Mozilla has a brilliant, far-reaching technology literacy
programme that teaches users how to be makers and
programmers and how to be safe and private on the Web.
• Mozilla should develop a curriculum about the way that DRM
undermines security by making vulnerability reporting illegal and
treating users as hostile adversaries.
• And it should teach would-be makers that DRM only allows you to
be a passive viewer and not a tinkerer, because if you change the
“open” decoder, it stops working.