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Center for Democracy & Technology

11:35 AM

CONTACT: Center for Democracy & Technology
David McGuire, (202) 637-9800 x106

Paper Offers Framework For Evaluating Digital Rights Management (DRM)

WASHINGTON - September 7 - The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) today released a document designed to help promote a greater public understanding of the choices and tradeoffs associated with products and services that include Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology.

"Evaluating DRM: Building a Marketplace for the Convergent World" tackles the complicated subject of copyright protection technology, offering a clear set of metrics for consumers and product reviewers to consider when evaluating DRM-protected devices and services. The goal of the paper is to educate users about what questions to ask to determine how various DRM applications may affect their ability to use movies, music, games and other media.

"The dizzying array of DRM technologies pouring into the marketplace can be confusing even for experts. We want to give the people who evaluate and purchase DRM-protected products the tools they need to make the decisions that are right for them," said CDT Staff Counsel David Sohn, who authored the report. "By helping to build a savvier, better informed user base, we should begin to foster a DRM market that is more diverse, competitive and responsive to consumer needs."

An electronic copy of the paper is available at, and a handy reference sheet is available at

DRM is the broad term used to describe the technologies used by copyright owners to limit unauthorized electronic distribution of their works. As technology converges and evolves to give users a growing array of options for using, sharing and storing electronic media, copyright owners have leaned increasingly on DRM to protect their intellectual property.

The rapid emergence of DRM technology has sparked a serious policy debate between copyright owners, who say the technology is essential to protecting their works, and critics who warn that many DRM technologies threaten to undermine consumers' rights to use digital media. But as that debate rages, DRM products continue to enter the marketplace, leaving consumers to decide what tradeoffs they're willing to make when buying electronic media.

The DRM paper identifies four major categories of issues that arise with DRM -- transparency, effects on use, collateral impact and purpose or consumer benefit -- offering evaluators a series of questions to ask when considering a specific DRM application.

About CDT: The Center for Democracy and Technology works to promote democratic values and constitutional liberties in the digital age. With expertise in law, technology, and policy, CDT seeks practical solutions to enhance free expression and privacy in global communications technologies. CDT is dedicated to building consensus among all parties interested in the future of the Internet and other new communications media.


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