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Debate: Digital rights management

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Is digital rights management justified?

Background and context

Digital rights management (DRM) is a generic term that refers to access control technologies that can be used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals to try to impose limitations on the usage of digital content and devices. The term is used to describe any technology which makes the unauthorized use of such digital content and devices technically formidable, but generally doesn't include other forms of copy protection which can be circumvented without modifying the file or device, such as serial numbers or keyfiles. It can also refer to restrictions associated with specific instances of digital works or devices. Digital rights management is being used by companies such as Sony, Apple Inc., Microsoft and the BBC.

The use of digital rights management is controversial. Advocates argue it is necessary for copyright holders to prevent unauthorized duplication of their work to maintain artistic integrity [1] and to ensure continued revenue streams.[2] Some opponents, such as the Free Software Foundation, maintain that the use of the word "rights" is misleading and suggest that people instead use the term Digital Restrictions Management. Their position is essentially that copyright holders are attempting to restrict use of copyrighted material in ways not covered by existing laws.[3] The Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other opponents, also consider DRM systems to be anti-competitive practices.[4]

See Wikipedia's article on Digital Rights Management for more background.

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