Digital rights management ( DRM ) is a term for access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals to limit the use of digital content and devices.
The term is used to describe any technology that inhibits uses of digital content that is not desired or intended by the content provider
The term does not generally refer to other forms of copy protection , which can be circumvented without modifying the file or device, such as serial numbers or key files .
It can also refer to restrictions associated with specific instances of digital works or devices. Digital rights management is used by companies such as Sony , Amazon , Apple Inc. , Microsoft , AOL and the BBC .
The use of digital rights management is controversial. Proponents argue it is needed by copyright holders to prevent unauthorized duplication of their work, either to maintain artistic integrity  or to ensure continued revenue streams
DRM technologies attempt to control use of digital media by preventing access, copying or conversion to other formats by end users .
DRM technologies have enabled publishers to enforce access policies that not only disallow copyright infringements , but also prevent lawful fair use of copyrighted works, or even implement use constraints on non-copyrighted works that they distribute
DRM is most commonly used by the entertainment industry (e.g., film and recording ).  Many online music stores , such as Apple Inc. 's iTunes Store , as well as many e-book publishers have implemented DRM. In recent years, a number of television producers have implemented DRM on consumer electronic devices to control access to the freely-broadcast content of their shows, in response to the rising popularity of time-shifting digital video recorder systems
Persistent Protection: Technology for protecting files via encryption and allowing access to them only after the entity desiring access has had its identity authenticated and its rights to that specific type of access verified
Business rights: Capability of associating business rights with a content by contract, e.g. author’s rights to an article or musician’s rights to a song
Access tracking : Capability of tracking access to and operations on content
Rights licensing : Capability of defining specific rights to content and making them available by contract
Digital rights management systems have received some international legal backing by implementation of the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT). Article 11 of the Treaty requires nations party to the treaties to enact laws against DRM circumvention.
The WCT has been implemented in most member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization .
The American implementation is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),
while in Europe the treaty has been implemented by the 2001 European directive on copyright , which requires member states of the European Union to implement legal protections for technological prevention measures.
In 2006, the lower house of the French parliament adopted such legislation as part of the controversial DADVSI law, but added that protected DRM techniques should be made interoperable, a move which caused widespread controversy in the United States.
Many organizations, prominent individuals, and computer scientists are opposed to DRM.
Two notable DRM critics are
John Walker , as expressed for instance, in his article The Digital Imprimatur : How big brother and big media can put the Internet genie back in the bottle , and
Richard Stallman in his article The Right to Read and in other public statements: "DRM is an example of a malicious feature - a feature designed to hurt the user of the software, and therefore, it's something for which there can never be toleration.
DRM is emerging as a formidable new challenge, and it is essential for DRM systems to provide interoperable services.
Solutions to DRM challenges will enable untold amounts of new content to be made available in safe, open, and trusted environments.
The technology can be expected to be heavily used in the future to support digital library collections, code and software development, distance education, and networked collaboration, among other applications.
DRM standardization is occurring in a number of open organizations.
The Open EBook Forum [OEBF] and the MPEG group [MPEG] are leading the charge for the eBook and multimedia sectors.
The Internet Engineering Task Force [IETF] and the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C] have also commenced work on DRM issues.
Their work will be important for the entire DRM sector, and it is also important that all communities be heard during these standardization processes in industry and sector-neutral standards organizations.