What is DRM and DRM Free You Want to Know

What is DRM and DRM Free You Want to Know

If it is the first time you come across the DRM problems, you get some error messages to playback the video or audio files. What is DRM or Digital Right Management? And how does the protection method works? It should date back to old floppy disks in 1960s, the manufacturers wrote disks using special driver that a typical consumer drive could not mimic. And now with the advanced technology, DRM is more than a method used on disk or hardware. The article will explain everything about DRM you should know about.

Part 1. What is Digital Rights Management?

DRM (Digital Rights Management) is a systematical and technological approach to copyright protection for digital media with access control. When the digital media is protected with DRM, it will prevent you from copying or sharing a song, reading a book or playing a single game without verification. If you want to break the restriction, you cannot access the files, it will turn out to be a damaged file or blank one. In order to access the DRM protected files, such as the songs from Apple iTunes Store, you have to purchase the item first. And you can access to DRM free item without restriction. And the DRM protected digital media files including Ebook files, software, movies, photos, games, songs, ring tones, TV shows, articles and even speech. Of course, you can also find lots of other media files are protected by DRM technologies.

What is Digital Rights Management

The Methods for Digital Rights Management

Just as mention, in order to protect the copyright the digital media, the manufacturer use some advanced technical algorithms to access control the files. What are the methods for DRM? The section will explain some frequently used solutions for DRM protected files.

1. Email Message Verification. It is a traditional method to control the media files by setting its servers to block the forwarding of sensitive email or messages. When you want to access the files, you have to get the email or messages beforehand.

2. Watermark DRM Protection. Another simple DRM protection for images is the watermark. In order to prevent the images from copying, some photographers just add logo or special signal to the images before uploading to the social media sites.

3. Persistent Online Authentication. The mainstream publishers use online Digital Rights Management protection. For most of the online articles, tools, songs and even games use the methods to protect the digital media from being copied or abused.

4. Software Tempering. Software tempering is a DRM method specially designed for games. Wherein if the game is suspected of being unauthorized, the error message, special invincible foe, constantly attack or even turn the role into bird or so.

5. Activation Key Codes. Most of us are familiar with the license key codes to activate software, such as the Windows Operation System or the items from Apple Store. It is also widely used method for articles and other files.

6. Information Rights Management. Information Rights Management or IRM is another most frequently used methods for the DRM protected files. A music label releases titles on a type of CD that includes bits of information intended to confusing ripping software.

There is no industrial standard for DRM protection methods. Most of the digital media manufacturers customize the DRM methods according to their own requirements. With the advanced technology, more methods will be introduced into the area. Just take Photoshop for example; Photoshop CS5 and CS6 use the activation license key protection previously. And now if you want to access to Photoshop CC, you can find the persistent online authentication in order to use the program online.

Part 2. DRM Protected

When the digital media file applied any of the solution, the file is the DRM protected file. There are different types of DRM protected files. The section just provides the most frequently used methods for different digital media files.

DRM Protected

DRM Document

When the DRM technology applied to digital media to control of access to corporate documents, such as Microsoft Word, PDF and AutoCAD files, Emails, and intranet webpages. Except for the solution, some content manufacturer also develops its own custom DRM system.

DRM Movies

An early example of DRM system is the Content Scrambling System employed by DVD Forum since 1996. With the development of the technology, Marlin is a technology that is developed and maintained in an industry group known as the Marlin Developer Community and licensed by the Marlin Trust Management Organization.

DRM Music

There are two types of DRM music. One is the Audio CDs, and the other Internet music. When the CD plays on the computer, the manufacturer will send a message to the server, once the message is verified, you can listen to the files, or else the files might not work or even damaged.

DRM TV Shows

The same as the DRM Movies, some protection methods are applied for TV shows. The CableCard standard is used by cable television providers in the United States to restrict content to services to which the customer has subscribed.

DRM Images

In order to protect the images, most of photographers will add watermark to prevent the files from copying. But it is not the only method to protect images, Instagram and similar social media websites also use the codec restriction from downloading.

Part 3. DRM Free

Actually DRM free does not mean the digital media is free of copyright protection or you can use the digital media for free. There are lots of DRM free music tracks can be purchased and downloaded online from iTunes Store or Napster. But usually the DRM free files should be cheaper than the DRM protected ones.

Just as mentioned above, the DRM is a method to protect the copyright, but no protect the user experience of customers. It is another reason that lots of developers use DRM free digital media files. If you have already purchased music with DRM from the iTunes Store, you might be able to download DRM free version of your songs with an iTunes Match subscription. What is more important, for the various types of DRM protection methods, if the digital rights management system is out of service, the digital media itself will be destroyed. When the DRM free applied, it means more freedom is provided to let the users to enjoy the files with ease.


After reading the article above, we may take DRM as protection methods for the digital media. Actually Digital Rights Management is more than copyright protection. It is also the respect for the excellent works of the developer, and the developer will contribute some updates and make the whole thing better for you. When you want to a DRM removal for a special reason, you should take into consideration first. The article is only my 2 cents about DRM and related files. If you have any other query about DRM, you can share more detail in the comments with us.