Digital Rights Management – who actually cares?!

So I had to do an essay on DRM during my Com. Tech class today. I thought it was a pretty interesting topic and I saved the essay onto my flash drive so I figured that I would share it with you guys.

Discuss the following question being sure to demonstrate a full understanding of the subject

(10 marks)


This is a very interesting question and there are many sides to this dilemma. There is obviously a moral aspect and legal aspect here. Let’s start off with the legal aspect.

Different countries have varying laws regarding Digital Rights Management and copyrights regarding digital media in general (the United States have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – other countries have slightly different laws). Anyhow, the variations in the law between countries is quite minimal, the fundamental DRM laws are the following: digital media (eg. Music) is to be purchased and enjoyed by the purchaser. The purchaser is not allowed to make copies and give away the media to someone else (obviously because that “someone else” has not purchased the media and therefore does not have the right to own a free copy of it). Also, the purchaser cannot resell the media for profitable purposes because he/she does not own the intellectual property of the product in question. Basically, it would be illegal for me to buy a DVD and make copies and sell it to my friends, because I do not own the intellectual property rights of the media. That right is only held by the producer(s) of the product. Lastly, it is also illegal “to deliberately have your media available for others to take even if it doesn’t involve you directly giving it away”. For instance, having a DRM protected movie uploaded onto your “shared” folder for a p2p client would obviously be illegal, because you are deliberately making the media available for others to take.

That pretty much sums up the actual legal aspect regarding digital media and the laws that bind it. The problem is that digital media by nature is very easy to manipulate and some debate that the laws are not specific enough to genuinely allow end users to differentiate “right” from “wrong”. For instance, would it be illegal to lend a CD to your friend? Think about it…that friend of yours could easily rip the CD onto his computer and return it to you without even telling you. Legally, that would be an infraction because your friend has not purchased the media. Then again, is it so wrong to lend a CD to your friend? Hold on, what if it wasn’t your friend, but your dad? Would it be illegal to buy a CD and let your dad rip it onto his computer? Morally, that doesn’t seem wrong at all. After all, it’s your dad, “so what?” if you share CDs with him? …I hope you get the idea…DRM is a double-edged sword; the legal aspect and the moral aspect heavily contradict one another at times.

Now that I’ve presented the 2 sides to this (the moral side and legal side), let’s tackle the actual dilemma in question: “DO PEOPLE WHO DECIDE THAT THEY WANT TO TRADE UP IPODS HAVE THE RIGHT TO SELL THEIR OLD ONES WITHOUT DELETING THE MUSIC ON THEM?”

In short, legally they would not have the right to do so. The mp3 player itself and the digital media have to be considered separately. The buyer would only be paying for the ipod, he does not have a legal right to the media, because he hasn’t a purchased it. The media is simply being given freely to him which is wrong in a legal stand point because it would be the equivalent of ripping CDs and sending them to your friends.

In short, to avoid accidentally breaking the law and so on, the seller should wipe everything on his ipod before selling it since that would be the “politically correct” thing to do for lack of a better word.

Then again, if the seller accidentally sold the ipod with all the music on it, I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. After all, it’s not like there are cops that check if you deleted your music before selling your ipod…

In this game that we call “DRM and Piracy”, the only voice that you have to listen to is your own conscience. It’s a question of morality. Digital media by nature is far too easy to share and “obtain”, piracy itself will never die. It is an internal conflict more than anything else.

“What does your conscience tell you?”


~ by hyeunny on November 13, 2008.

4 Responses to “Digital Rights Management – who actually cares?!”

  1. Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. Thanks for the comment, for some reason wordpress filtered your comment into the spam category -_- Oh well.

  3. yeah torrent rulz

  4. sharing is caring carebear unit

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