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Digital Rights Management (DRM) is emerging as the hot, new content management solution. As a user of fee-based Web sites, you probably don’t care about the contract behind the data. As long as you get what you need, you are happy. But it’s another story for those charged with the administrative functions of this access. It is tedious and time-consuming to comply with the contract and license restrictions imposed by database and Web site producers. With DRM, the administrative load will be lightened while providing users with automatic copyright controls. Simply, DRM ensures that people with “rights” to the materials get access and that people without the rights don’t. If your firm has purchased unrestricted access to a Web site, DRM software allows that. If your firm has purchased access to only certain portions of the site, DRM allows access to just those portions. Digital locks and keys control your access to the information with IDs, passwords, encryption or Internet Protocol (IP) authentication. Unlike Napster, these locks accompany the content even if it you pass it, or attempt to pass it, to another user. In addition, DRM allows the data producer to track redistribution for payment purposes. DRM also controls what the user can do with the information. Can you read only, or can you print, save, copy and redistribute the information? Examples of simplified DRM in action: Our firm has a contract with a Web site using IP authentication. When a user goes to the site, the Web site knows that the user is accessing the site through a Schnader Harrison computer and automatically gives the user access. However, we have only paid for three concurrent users to the site. Therefore, when a fourth user tries to gain access, he is given a message that the concurrent number of users has been reached and that he should try again later. I recently tried to save a photo on a movie review site. I right-clicked as normal but noticed the save and copy selections were grayed out. Then a message popped up confirming that those options were not available because I did not have rights to save the image. The photo was the property of the movie studio which released the movie. Stephen King recently offered “Riding the Bullet” exclusively on the Web. He made the decision to give away the book to gain readership. There were not tight access controls because he wanted the process to be easy. But he did lock “use.” If you were reading “Riding the Bullet,” you were unable to copy, cut, paste or print any text from the book. The DRM software had encrypted the format to prevent unauthorized use. The bad news for King was that hackers successfully cracked the encryption and posted unencrypted versions. He will probably have tighter DRM for his next book. Recently the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) unveiled their DRM service. Dow Jones & Co. selected CCC to provide DRM service for the Web editions of The Wall Street Journaland Barron’s. When publishers such as Dow Jones start to use a technology, you can count on it becoming a standard. No longer will you need to worry about violating copyright by saving an article and redistributing to a colleague or client. With DRM in place you will not even be able to do so unless you have “save” and redistribution access. Bobbi Cross ( [email protected]) is the director of research and information resources at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis. Annemarie Lorenzen ( [email protected]) is a reference librarian at Schnader.

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