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Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to the process of imposing restrictions to control access to a copyright protected content available on digital media, including e-books, technology white papers, music, videos and others. The purpose is to prevent a user to copy, edit or redistribute information which belongs to another. It works on three levels–establishing a copyright for the data, managing the distribution, and limiting what a consumer can do once the content is made available to him.

The world of internet makes it almost impossible to sue every single person who breaks the law and as a result, many organizations are trying to technologically control the consumers to prevent them from making digital copies of their content. A few other access controls are also implemented, like limiting the number of devices in which the file can be used or limiting the access for a specific time period. Many a times, the data is encrypted in such a way that only a specific device can be used to retrieve it, imposing constraints in the way it is used. Limiting the illegal dispersion of copyrighted works can also be achieved by using digital watermarks.

Lately, DRM has expanded its usage to traditional hardware products too. For example, “verified boot” or secure boot” feature is embedded in some devices, which allow only signed software to run on the device. Also, some Intel processors are sold with some features which can be unlocked only after payment. A few smartphones also come with the bootloader locked.

DRM has evolved through the years, with the rapid increase in online piracy of commercial materials incurring loss of huge revenues. The DRM system is certainly a remarkable extension to the old IT controls and offers much greater power to control one’s ability to use a digital material.

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