PDF Security Software for Ebooks with DRM

Evolution of Digital Rights Management

drm lockDigital Rights Management (DRM) has been around for a while, but not for as long as what some want us to believe. The information provided by Wikipedia on DRM has grown exponentially over the years while anyone who has ever researched, developed or even written about it since has added a link for themselves. Such is the creditability of that information resource when it can be edited by anyone. I have seen many entities added who appeared well after the reference to which they appended.

It wasn't until 2000 that DRM became a buzz word and bantied around by some in the copy protection industry whether they employed DRM or not. Digital Rights Management or Document Rights Management was about controlling access to media, and not just with a password, but ensuring that the media could not be shared. Passwords can be shared and there is nothing in place to prevent that. DRM is really about restricting access to the media to intended users only, thus preventing distribution without authority.

All sorts of methods for preventing copy and redistribution was falsely advertised as DRM and "best copy protection" most were really as secure as a soggy paper bag, encrypted images that could be saved from their web page and displayed on any other web site, media  packed in a compressed file (ZIP) requiring a password or affected by expiry date. In all of these cases, once the media was on display or unpacked (unzipped), there was nothing in place to prevent their copy and redistribution. Yet their vendors claimed them to be "DRM protected".

drm roller coasterConsequently DRM got a bad name and became the sport of authors writing about "how easy it is to remove DRM" and software developers creating software to remove protection from all sorts of files. And yes that was very true in the case of the DRM applied to Adobe PDF. So with so much DRM being easily exploited, it was most difficult for those in the industry that were successfully protecting media to justify their existence.

Where did all of these DRM solutions come from? Well it may have been due to the hype promoted by some of the early startups in the copy protection industry to encourage investors and attract public funding. They were promoting copy protection as a multi-million dollar business by citing the value of lost revenue due to the copy and unauthorized distribution of movies and other media. When one does the sums and counts the revenue lost to piracy it seems equitable for those media companies to pay a percentage of that lost revenue for protection to prevent such losses. Well the spiel worked and I recall the aooearance of 2 new startups, each commencing with 20 plus million dollars. That funding was later increased but to no avail because their product was over rated and flawed. While they were not more than imitations of ArtistScope solutions they were extremely expensive.

video productionWhether they believed their own hype or not is not important, but what everyone soon discovered was that "copy protection" is not a multi-million dollar business no matter how you wrap it. Those two startups disappeared within 2-3 years and their investors kissed their hard earned savings good-bye.

DRM has lived on and new startups still appear. Only last year another one with $12 million funding went to the cleaners. Their product was a web browser designed for data security with malware protection and intended for use in corporate networks. A lot was spent on promoting that browser and to someone who understands how  copy protection and security work, it be obvious that they employed the best wordsmiths because reading their brochure was like visiting Alice in Wonderland where nothing is real.

But there are many companies still researching and developing ways to protect video and other media. The big target is the film industry because that is where millions are spent to create movies and that is where almost the entire population seems to be hell bent on pirating and viewing for free. So you have the media industry sitting on one side of the fence while on the other side you have the public and the anti-DRM lobbyists doing anything that they can to undermine DRM.

DRM protects the livelihood of those creating the media. All they want is to be paid for the work that they do. Yet the public, who are happy to be paid for their own work and to be able to feed their own family, have a hunger for free video that deprives the film industry from feeding their families. But it is not just the film industry that suffers because the same adversity is encountered by the distributors of all types of media.

What is the future of DRM for video? That depends on the target market. Video for home entertainment, like the video that you hire and play on your TV recorder, is impossible to protect indefinitely. That is a market where millions has been spent on research and development to protect but its success is a catch 22 because for it to be 100% unexploitable, proprietary hardware (video player) is required and even that would not be safe for too long, unless there is a way to prevent the anti-DRM mindset from distributing similar hardware that counters the protection.

video protectionThat is the state of affairs on that front, but on computers, especially on Windows computers, DRM can be most secure. However any DRM solution that is expected to be supported on all other OS will be doomed to failure because those OS are not as secure and in comparison, can be considered unstable. For example the Windows operating system (OS) doesn't change much and even radical changes like the upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 10 took several years. What that means in terms of stability is that any software designed to run on a Windows OS will be good for several years and will most likely run on the next version as well. But that is not so with the other OS. In relation to system integrity non-Windows OS, especially those used in amusement devices like mobile phones, are vulnerable to exploit, which is why the apps for them are simple add-ons that are based on JavaScript and HTML. As such they cannot do any harm to the operating system. But then, by not being able to operate at system level, the add-ons are ineffective in preventing copy or preventing other apps from exploiting media.

That is why ArtistScope, the founder and leading developer of copy protection for more than 20 years, provides DRM and copy protection solutions for Windows only. In other words, why lock the doors if you are going to leave the windows open?

Author: William Kent
Date: 16th July 2019

Return to DRM and Copy Protection


iCartoon 2019-07-19
Yes, I recall a time when DRM meant high-tech access rights control. But now it has lost its relevance thanks to the nonsense spread about DRM being easily removed plus the scores of fake protection services using the term "DRM" to sensationalize their droppings.

Ian Snow 2019-07-22
Cheer up William. I too have seen a lot of new startups barge into the copy protection industry with huge funding to smother PR and Adwords with their wonderful [sic] solutions. But I haven't seen anything new or worthwhile and yes, they do seem to fade away after a couple of years. Nothing like CopySafe that we have found dependable and most effective. Keep up the good work!

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