DRM

As the proud new possessor of an iPod, DRM these days is more than just an acronym to me. But for those of you out there for whom it is still just another TLA (three letter acronym), suffice to say that DRM stands for Digital Rights Management.

DRM’s purpose is to prevent illegal distribution of copyrighted, paid for digital content, and is basically an umbrella term coined by the industry for the various technologies used to achieve this.

This is obviously a big issue. These days, virtually every sort of premium content that you can think of, from music to movies to book transcripts can be stored and transmitted digitally. The big headlines have of course been made by peer-to-peer file sharing networks such as Napster and Kazaa, where a free for all in downloadable content was said to exist.

There are a large number of ways in which DRM can operate, from things like digital watermarking - which identifies the purchaser of the product within its code, so that if copies appear it’s easier to trace back to its source - to just threatening to sue the distribution networks.

Copying has existed for as long as it’s been possible. Of course, in bygone days, the copy was always inferior to the original, especially with its lack of sleeve notes and lyrics.

I was, in reality, an early file sharer, though I didn’t like to think of myself as such. On a Sunday, I would listen to the official chart show on Radio 1 and download (or tape) various tunes (or files). I would then occasionally pass them round (or share) them with my mates (or peers) in the playground (or peer group personal internetworking space).

Naturally as well as music, there was also the sharing or pirating of applications (which we used to call games) and this is where the difference between analogue copies and today’s digital ones really came to the fore.

A third or fourth generation copy of a game for your ZX Spectrum would probably load two times out of every three, and degrade slightly every time you used it. Today’s digital copies are perfect and will remain pristine no matter how many times it’s used.

Digital media has made copying so easy these days it’s taken for granted, and the Internet has made it possible for one original to be duplicated on an unlimited basis, multiples of thousands of times.

Of course it’s very nice to be able to get hold of virtually anything you want without having to pay for it, but what happens if no one is willing to anything for love, but they won’t do that”.

pay for anything? What will be the drivers behind creating new content?. In the paraphrased words of Meatloaf it could be that’ll “they’ll do