Digital Rights Management (generally abbreviated to DRM) is an umbrella term that refers to any of several technologies used by publishers or copyright owners to control access to and usage of digital data or hardware, and to restrictions associated with a specific instance of a digital work or device. The term is often confused with copy protection and technical protection measures; these two terms refer to technologies that control or restrict the use and access of digital content on electronic devices with such technologies installed, acting as components of a DRM design.
So, how does this apply to you and me? I will try to explain a bit. Let’s say that you buy the latest Tim Wilson cd for $15. A hefty sum for a cd IMO. Your little brother likes to borrow your cd’s, and you always get them back scratched and unplayable. You decide that you are going to rip this cd to your pc so you have a copy of the music. You pop the CD into your pc and the player that is built into the cd pops up. You HAVE the option (in this particular instance) to copy the cd over to your pc. After you get the cd copied, you play the music files on your pc. Works great! Now you don’t have to worry about the cd getting scratched, because you have a backup!
Fast forward a couple of weeks. You come in after a hard day of school skipping and skateboarding and notice that your music collection is scattered all over the floor. Your new cd is missing. You head straight to your little brothers room and discover that he has been experimenting with putting cd’s in the microwave. Your new cd was “accidentaly” put in the microwave instead of the Ace of Bass cd you gave him to experiment with.
A few wedgies later, you head back to your room. You remember that you ripped the cd to your pc a few weeks ago, so your not too upset (but you don’t tell your brother that). You put a blank cd into the burner, open your favorite burning software and load up the songs. Hit the burn button, and away you go! After about enough time goes by to delete the spam messages out of your myspace account, the cd tray pops out and you grab your cd. The excitement is running through your veins like a white boy in south central LA. You put the cd into your player and what screams out of it reminds you of Alvin and the Chipmunks after a bad hit of LSD. You’ve been DRM’d!! HAHA!! LOLOL!!!!11
Your in an elite club now. A club that begins to scour the net for a way to burn the music that YOU PAID FOR to another cd. You find all of these tools, but none of them work…they are all too old!
Sit back, take a deep breathe and relax. There is a tool out there in the deepest darkest parts of the net. The places where the weak not venture to go for fear that the RIAA might come knocking at their door for just reading a post on a forum. (Don’t put it past them!)
You call your best friend Bo (the super pirate) and he tells you to meet him after midnight under the I-40 overpass and to come alone. You see your friend standing there…he is visibly shaken. Peering around a concrete column at every sound he hears. He slips you a piece of paper and sprints out of sight. You open the paper and he has jotted on there “fu4wm13fix.zip”. You wonder what exactly it is. Upon arriving home, you plug that string of characters into google, and you have a look around. Now your on the right track!
Breaking the DRM or distributing the tools to break DRM may expose you to liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) even if you’re not making any illegal uses.