What is DRM?

Citiation of the Defective by Design project:

"Digital Restrictions Management is the practice of imposing technological restrictions that control what users can do with digital media. When a program is designed to prevent you from copying or sharing a song, reading an ebook on another device, or playing a single-player game without an Internet connection, you are being restricted by DRM. In other words, DRM creates a damaged good; it prevents you from doing what would be possible without it. This concentrates control over production and distribution of media, giving DRM peddlers the power to carry out massive digital book burnings and conduct large scale surveillance over people's media viewing habits.

If we want to avoid a future in which our devices serve as an apparatus to monitor and control our interaction with digital media, we must fight to retain control of our media and software."

Guide to DRM-Free Living.

Since DRM requires proprietary software to work properly, we are not able to distribute a modified version of the program without the violating code. It may not work due to the schema of DRM. Free Software and Trisquel resist this type of control, but they are not immune to it.

Free Software can be restricted through Tivoization, named for the device it was first seen on. Tivoization is the process to create a system which incorporates Free Software with Copyleft and by using restrictions of proprietary hardware, to prevent users from running a modified version of the software. Any "free" software that is used that way is not Free Software. This is one of many reasons why Open Source misses the point of Free Software.

You can find DRM with proprietary software:

  1. If you have a video on your laptop you cannot see on a bigger screen (“not authorized”)
  2. If you buy an ebook on your smartphone and you are not able to read it on your computer.
  3. If you cannot install a modified version of an operating system on the same hardware due to certain restrictions although the software itself is Free Software.

Additional effects of DRM

Remotely erased

According to a story of the New York Times about Amazon and "1984":

"It illustrates how few rights you have when you buy an e-book from Amazon," said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for British Telecom and an expert on computer security and commerce. "As a Kindle owner, I’m frustrated. I can’t lend people books and I can’t sell books that I’ve already read, and now it turns out that I can’t even count on still having my books tomorrow."


DRM incorporates service-as-a-substitute-for-software (SaaSS). SaaSS raises the question about surveillance regularly.

For example if the software remembers what books you read and which page you were. Or when it stores information on the server of the vendor instead of your own device.

Depending on the manufacturer

DRM forces the user to remain in a dependent situation to a single entity for products and services. To change the manufacturer is incredibly difficult without massive costs.

Worse Performance

Digital restrictions management often impairs the software that a person uses. Sonic Mania is an example.

Waste of money for content creators

There is no evidence that DRM actually stops copyright infringement despite the fact that companies such as Disney put DRM on products there is no evidence that it stops copyright infringement at all the very thing drm vendors claim to help stop copyright infringment denovo is an example they claim to protect creators but crackers have been successful in stripping the drm from various denovo protected games







Watermarking is the implementation of a system where a person's personal information is attached to a certain product. These products are designed to reduce copyright infringement by making the original buyer identifiable. As watermarking in of itself does not qualify as DRM, it is (sometimes) sold on DRM free websites and is typically compatible with free software.


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