digital rights management

n. A system that identifies intellectual property rights relevant to particular works in digital formats and that can provide individuals with access to those works on the basis of permissions to the individuals.


Primarily associated with copyright, digital rights management can also be used for privacy, confidentiality, and performance rights. Digital rights management systems are intended to promote automated distribution of materials while protecting those materials from unauthorized copying or access.


Briston 2003, p. 14 Copyright law delineates a bundle of exclusive rights that could conceivably be expressed in a DRM system. The extent of these rights, however, is limited by several exceptions, and it is harder to program in exceptions. One such exception is the fair use exception Section 107. This example calls for a judge to balance four factors, and no one factor definitively weighs for or against fair use. DRM systems are designed for precision, not for balancing, with the default configuration intended to minimize or prevent perfect copying. Thus, the system usually bars activities that would otherwise be legal.