Digital Rights Management Market Trends

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Digital Rights Management
Market Trends

by Brady Hicks

Docid: 00018542

Publication Date: 2205

Report Type: MARKET


The concept of enterprise DRM (digital rights management) – which is often
regarded as an anti-piracy solution – is engaged in a complex controversy in
which its opponents derisively call it "digital restriction management." DRM,
while deemed a necessity in the enterprise, is often decried by content users as
too restrictive, especially of content that has been purchased. Despite the
ongoing debate surrounding DRM, however, the market is optimistic. This report
discusses the issues that organizations face when implementing DRM, including
the identification of market leaders; trends; and other forms of guidance that
should govern one’s DRM strategy.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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The term enterprise DRM (digital rights management) refers to a technology
that allows organizations to control digital content use. The acronym should not
be confused with copy protection – or "copyright" – which only attempts to
prohibit unauthorized copies of media or files.

Digital Rights Management Software Tutorial

Even though DRM technology began in the entertainment industry, its
definition has been broadened over time to include areas such as:

  • Financial services
  • Manufacturing
  • Science
  • HIPAA and other areas of federal regulatory compliance

Despite this distinction, DRM is immersed in a controversy over "rights" vs.

Opponents claim that DRM actually violates laws, stifles development, and
hampers marketplace growth. The unauthorized access and redistribution of
confidential digital information usually comes about via theft, espionage,
hacking, or the acquisition of devices not properly wiped. With this
consideration, the need for DRM becomes increasingly clear. If an enterprise can
protect info and provide only legitimate and authorized content access, it can
be considered a win-win situation.

Market Dynamics

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Enterprise DRM refers to a technology used by publishers, copyright holders,
and hardware and software manufacturers to control and protect the use of
digital media or devices. DRM stands in contrast to "copy protection," or
"copyright," which attempts to prohibit unauthorized copies of media or files. A
subset of DRM, meanwhile, is IRM (information rights management) which protects
information at the source.


While DRM is often deemed a necessity in the enterprise, it is often decried
by users and derisively called "Digital Restriction Management." In fact, the
"International Day Against DRM," which is held each year, has become an annual
activist event.

The controversy over DRM "rights vs. restrictions" traces its roots back to
1998 when the DCMA (Digital
Millennium Copyright Act
) passed in the US. The act "implements the
obligation to provide adequate and effective protection against circumvention of
technological measures used by copyright owners to protect their works…. Section
1201 divides technological measures into two categories: measures that prevent
unauthorized access to a copyrighted work and measures that prevent unauthorized
copying of a copyrighted work." This distinction was employed to ensure that the
public will have the continued ability to make fair use of copyrighted works.
The Act goes on to state, "Since copying a work may be a fair use under
appropriate circumstances, section 1201 does not prohibit the act of
circumventing a technological measure that prevents copying. By contrast, since
the fair use doctrine is not a defense to the act of gaining unauthorized access
to a work, the act of circumventing a technological measure in order to gain
access is prohibited," and criminal penalties can be imposed.1

This act, however, is considered very broad; in fact, every three years the
Library of Congress issues exemptions to the DMCA. To gain an exemption, it must
be proven that stopping users from circumventing DRM infringes upon lawful uses
of technology and content. In 2013, The Unlocking Technology Act was introduced
to limit violations of Section1201 to those that intentionally infringe upon
copyrights. This bill would allow for security research, which is deemed by many
interpretations as unlawful. A revised version of this bill – for allowing users
to unlock devices and other forms of electronics – was reintroduced in 2015.

In the meantime, copyright "creep," as many opponents to DRM term it,
continues. The essence of copyright creep is to extend the meaning of copyright
to discourage competition. Opponents want to protect consumer rights. The EFF
(Electronic Frontier Foundation) describes itself as the leading nonprofit
organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990,
this group works to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected
as the use of technology grows. The FSF (Free Software Foundation) is another
nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom and to
defend the rights of all free software users. The organization considers DRM to
be a threat to computer user freedom. The FSF, in particular, sponsors the GNU
project – an ongoing effort to provide a complete operating system licensed as
free software. A participatory and grassroots organization is Defective by
Design; it is against what it terms "DRM-encumbered devices and media."
Opponents to DRM, then, as voices for consumers, are against the control of
digital content usage in various forms.

From the enterprise point of view, however, DRM has tangible benefits. In the
enterprise market, DRM is directed at sensitive content. DRM secures each file
individually so that it cannot be compromised even after mass distribution.
Since access rights are strictly controlled, users cannot change a file’s
content. Corporate information that can be protected includes digital
information, such as documentation (this technology tends to work alongside
document and content management), e-mail, and other forms of sensitive data.

Market Growth

Thus, despite the controversy, the DRM market is growing as more companies
realize its importance in protecting intellectual property. Even though DRM
technology began in the entertainment industry, it is now used in industries
that include financial services, manufacturing, and science. It is also becoming
increasingly important as a method of complying with US federal regulations such
as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which focuses on
patient privacy and related concerns. The legal, healthcare, and government
sectors have huge potential for growth as organizations begin to take seriously
the need to protect their information.

Traditional security methods have focused on protecting a company at the
network level rather than at the file level. As such, they are usually not
designed to stop authorized individuals from misusing and redistributing
information, and thus could not protect a company against internal threats from
its own employees; threats from partners; and those from paying customers who
copy and redistribute material despite watermarking. In response, vendors began
moving beyond traditional security methods to develop DRM software.

Nowadays, content must also be controlled across the Internet, desktop, and
mobile platforms – including personal devices – as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
practices and policies proliferate. This trend can create major issues as some
content is locked to certain devices, making device management yet another issue
to tackle. However, DRM can prevent content misuse and theft in the first place.
DRM offers persistent control of digital content, regardless of the delivery
mechanism, and enables use models that add value to the user’s experience to
take full advantage of the timely delivery, wide availability, search-ability,
and link-ability of the Internet.

In addition, DRM lets a company limit even trusted individuals’ access to
confidential digital documents. The company can retain this control even when
the documents have been delivered to a mobile device or a home computer, and the
company can revoke access at any time from any individual. DRM software also
prevents users from copying information with a browser’s cut and paste commands
or by screen capture. However, DRM can never prevent information from being
copied if a user wants to take a picture of the screen (a photograph) or,
obviously, if a user can remember or manually write down the information.


Relative DRM advantages include:

  • Rights Management – Support for comprehensive
    rights-management in order to take advantage of new revenue opportunities by packaging,
    pricing, distributing, and selling content in new ways. DRM software makes
    it feasible to sell rights instead of the actual content, and even to sell
    fractions of rights, such as portions of a work, time-limited access, and
    rights to see but not print.
  • Tracking Use – Ability to track (un)authorized use and
    learn about context, including, specifically, who uses it, which articles
    they read, which advertisements they look at, and with whom they share the
    content. This context management (or usage management) helps a company
    better understand and track its customers’ preferences and buying habits, in
    addition to providing information for targeted marketing. The company can
    then upsell, cross-sell, or suggest other products or services tailored to
    the information it has about the customer. This information also makes it
    possible to give customers the benefit of targeted access to specific
  • Education – Education and education-marketing
    opportunities for helping to combat the notion that customers are penalized
    by having paid-for digital information restricted and collected, while also
    potentially stifling competition.

Market Leaders

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Top DRM software providers, among other companies, include NextLabs, Oracle,
OpenText, and Microsoft, among other competitors.

NextLabs Enterprise DRM

offers Enterprise Digital
Rights Management, a product that is designed to protect data as it moves and is
shared across an extended enterprise. This data-centric security offering
provides security and restricted access to any type of file, from any device,
for more secure collaboration. NextLabs’ Digital Rights Management can also
adapt to dynamic business situations; support ad hoc data sharing; maintain
centralized visibility and control over data sharing policies; and provide
auditing and reporting capabilities to track user activity, data sharing, and
data access.

Oracle IRM

Oracle’s Information Rights Management

software provides information security via encryption, which can "seal"
documents and e-mails. Access to the decryption keys are controlled to allow
only authorized end users to access sealed files, regardless of where they are
stored or used.

OpenText Rights Management Services

OpenText’s Rights Management Services

for the ECM Suite, are designed to allow enterprises to safeguard confidential
and sensitive information from unauthorized users, even after it leaves the
secure vault of the content repository.

Microsoft PlayReady

Another option is
Microsoft’s PlayReady

service, which the company touts as "the widest deployed content protection
technology in the world." The PlayReady offering delivers premium content via a
specialized ecosystem that reaches a wide array of devices and operating
systems. The system offers content protection for intellectual property to over
a thousand licenses from all parts of an ecosystem, thus delivering secured,
premium content and assets for premium entertainment scenarios.

Other DRM Products

Other alternative DRM product sets include offerings by ArtistScope, Vitrium,
Axinom, Locklizard, Widevine, Bynder, Canto, Seclore, and Vaultize.

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Despite its controversial nature, an agreement can be made by both proponents
and opponents of DRM that the software offers a powerful tool. In fact, the
market for this form of software is now projected to grow to an estimated $4.35
billion (2025)2, with more recent estimates pointing to a 15.12
percent CAPG over that same time. This includes projected growth in North
America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific.

DRM software is needed not just by businesses that sell content but also by
any business that depends on confidential digital information, such as
management consulting, banking, and manufacturing, and/or that needs to
collaborate across the Internet with confidentiality. DRM can be used for
construction bids, plans for aircrafts, financial services research documents
for certain customers, and pharmaceutical regulatory documentation, and can also
help companies to control and monitor access to sensitive business information
such as legal documents, financial data, media information, and corporate

In addition, DRM provides proof-of-delivery for legal documents and can be
used by companies that are not trying to keep their information private but
rather want to gather marketing and usage data as the information is
distributed. These companies may be more interested in the tracking functions of
DRM than the security and anti-piracy features. With the need for DRM spread
across so many industries, it is no wonder why analysts often see it enjoying
growth for the foreseeable future.

Mozilla Conundrum

The continuing saga of Mozilla may be the best way to put the market trend
into perspective. Mozilla Firefox proclaims that it is "committed to you, your
privacy and an open Web." Mozilla goes on to say that it is a "global community
of technologists, thinkers and builders working together to keep the Internet
alive and accessible, so people worldwide can be informed contributors and
creators of the Web. We believe this act of human collaboration across an open
platform is essential to individual growth and our collective future."3

As a result, critics have come to question the organization’s decision to
incorporate Adobe closed-source DRM in an effort to remain competitive. The DRM
technology, it noted4:

Allows online video and audio services to enforce that the content
provided is used in accordance with requirements. This technology may
restrict some browser aspects. While some DRM-controlled content can be
viewed using the Adobe Flash plugin, many services are moving towards HTML5
video that requires a different DRM mechanism called a Content Decryption
Module (CDM).

Strategic Planning Implications

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The first step in developing DRM strategy is to identify and categorize an
organization’s digital assets. Everything from streaming media files to diagrams
to financial records may constitute the whole of an organization’s digital
assets. Once digital assets are identified, organizations can then determine
which items will need DRM. Many assets can be protected with security measures
such as firewalls and network authentication. The ones that will require
additional protection are those at a high risk of piracy such as those that will
be distributed over the Web.

For each item that needs to be protected, organizations should identify who
is authorized to view it and determine how it will be distributed. DRM provides
varying levels and types of protection for electronic assets. Organizations may
opt to make some content available only as an un-savable stream, while other
content may be appropriately offered for download. Some DRM technology enables
access policies to be centrally managed. This approach, if available, will
reduce administrative labor while improving control and accuracy.

Other considerations include the following:

  • Is the solution scalable?
  • Does the solution set clear policies and have an audit plan for itself?
  • Does the company provide training?
  • Does the company have an established successful track record of cloud-based
  • Does the technology encompass mobility solutions across devices and
  • What is the DRM roadmap?
  • Does the solution have a maintenance plan?
  • What is the risk management plan? Are there backup and recovery processes
    and procedures in place? Can rights be revoked?
  • Can the DRM solution provider distinguish between must-haves and
    nice-to-haves? Not all data requires the same level of management or
  • Are e-mail attachments afforded the same level of protection as the e-mail
  • How are legitimate developers protected and allowed to innovate?

The most successful DRM solutions will not likely be those that are overly
restrictive. The greatest success will be achieved by those solutions that
strike a balance between providing customers with rich content that can be
conveniently accessed while simultaneously implementing mechanisms that provide
reasonable protection for the enterprise.

In other words, DRM solutions must not forget the end users. Educating users
should therefore be a high priority. After all, DRM exists for risky business,
but it does not have to be risky business itself – nor does an enterprise have
to rely on luck. Right now, DRM is not just a "right," it is a requirement for
the enterprise.


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About the Author

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Brady Hicks is an editor with Faulkner Information Services. He writes about computer and
networking hardware, software, communications networks and equipment, and the

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