Thursday, September 07, 2006

DRM gets lardy

Vacation / holiday is great! The weather is great, and the travel through Heathrow is always a nightmare, but its still great to be 'home' for a bit. I could say the guilt of not blogging hit me. Its more that I'm staying with my folks, so escaping to the PC for an hour is a good thing now and again, so here is an item I felt I should comment on.

I almost missed a nice post at the end of last week by James Governor on MonkChips, titled: digital lard for the enterprise: DRM meets document formats. I certainly couldn't have named it better myself, as it probes some of the fatty issues around Digital Rights Management clogging up documents repositories. Stellent was named as one offender with their most recent acquisition of SealedMedia. As I talked about in a little detail last week:
EMC recently announced that it was pairing its Records Manager with DRM technology aquired from Authentica, enabling records managers to enforce their policies for all records, independent of custody. In principle this seems like a great pairing, but there are some issues to be addressed[...]

Then I go on to talk about some of these issues, finishing with the most important: "Proprietary encryption and DRM typically ties an organization to that vendor for life". James puts it a little more bluntly (and effectively):

You see, if the vendor in question decides you have broken the terms of the software license, they could, in theory simply turn your documents off. The vendor , not the customer, holds DRM keys.

Of course you could argue the great majority of current documents usually require Microsoft anyway, to read them. But those documents are readable. DRM on the other hand adds a whole new level of difficulty.

And so it seems that we agree that DRM has its issues. It also has its place, so to reinforce the message James finished up:
But not all documents need that protection.

Now I have to go back to wrestling why it is that I am looking at DRM at all, and why companies believe they need it. I'm going to be doing a little work with wireless / mobile telcos and their sale and distribution of content. A space well removed from the records repositories I am most familiar and closer to the 'end of the (consumer digital) world is nigh'.

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