Protecting Digital Content – Part One: Digital Rights Management

In today’s world, it is important that sellers of digital products protect themselves.  Therefore, if anyone sells or is thinking of selling digital content, he or she will want to protect the product.

Protection comes in two flavors:

  • Digital Rights Management (DRM)
  • Licensing Agreements

First, let’s talk about Digital Rights Management.

So what is Digital Rights Management, or DRM?

DRM is the act of physically securing a digital product by restricting its use.  It prevents the buyer from using the content outside the boundaries of the license.

There are multiple DRM methods to protect ones work, but the four most popular include:

  • Limiting the use of a digital product by restricting the number of uses
  • Limiting the use of a digital product to a defined time period
  • Limiting the use of a digital product by the device type
  • Limiting the use of a digital product by the type of access

Although most people think Digital Rights Management is done at the delivery level, it is mostly done at the file level.  Note: Content Shelf is the delivery level.

The costs of DRM can be calculated in the following ways:

  • Cost of the actual DRM
  • Cost of Product Support
  • Cost of Refunds/Chargebacks

The actual cost of DRM for an individual product can vary from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the levels of controls the digital content owner wants to enforce.

Seeing how most people are technology challenged, support costs can add up fairly quickly when a buyer of the product needs a question answered (such as to how to access the product on his or her device).  As the seller of a digital product, one will need to study up and be a “guru” on all levels to support Digital Rights Management.

The cost of refunds/chargebacks can add up quickly too, especially if the seller’s product is listed at $10 and the chargeback fee is $25.  As a seller of digital content, be prepared to receive refund requests and chargeback notifications, should a product be protected by DRM.

In late 2011, Digital Rights Management was a very hot topic.  Some said (and still say) DRM is necessary, while others insist DRM is too restrictive. This controversy affects authors, musicians, and producers, as well as other industries.  Such artists usually use DRM to protect the future sharing of their works (e-books, songs, movies, etc.).  But opponents argue that using DRM violates a buyer’s rights.

There are few alternatives to Digital Rights Management.

Take Content Shelf for instance… we do not provide traditional DRM, but we do offer a few options to our clients that act as deterrents to theft:

  • Audio/Video Streaming with Timed Access
  • PDF Protection with Digital Fingerprinting, Password Protection, as well as No Print and No Copy Restrictions

Regardless of which side of the aisle everyone falls on, it is important for people to protect their digital content.

Come back next week when we continue our discussion on protecting digital content, specifically with licensing agreements.