Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to technologies which enforce limitations on access to and copying of digital data. Content owners implement DRM systems in music, motion pictures, software and other content distributed in digital form, in order to control piracy. For example, DRM systems may limit the number or type of computers on which content may be copied or may limit the number of times content may be played. In 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed, prohibiting the circumvention of “technological protection measures” which control copying and access to content. In other words, the DMCA acts as the legal mechanism to enforce DRM systems.
Volumes have been written by critics, advocates and observers regarding the interplay between DRM systems and the DMCA’s liability regime. This discourse has focused primarily on the scope of DMCA liability and the nature of technological measures subject to the Act. Content owners take the position that DRM systems and the DMCA are necessary to ensure their rights are respected and to prevent revenue loss due to piracy of copyrighted works. Critics assert that DRM systems and the DMCA are overly restrictive and enable more protection than was ever intended under the Copyright Act.
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