You Have No Right to Do That!
It was a day like most others. I was frantically doing research for an article that was scheduled to run in a future issue, when something unusual happened. I found a copy of an article that was "reprinted from The New York Times" that I wanted to print out and toss into the file I was creating, chock-full of background on the subject.
But, lo and behold, I couldn't print it. I quickly found out that I couldn't copy the text and paste it into a new document (which I would then print) either. I couldn't cut the text. I couldn't e-mail it to myself from the PDF. I couldn't do anything! I was frustrated.
But, I quickly realized that the source of my frustration was the protector of your property and revenue. The article that had caused my eyebrows to bunch was enabled with some underlying digital rights management software that enforces copyrights online. Rather than The New York Times just giving reprint permission by handing over a contract that says, "You can put the article on your site, but neither you nor your site's visitors can copy it, print it or change it," the DRM software actually prohibits that behavior. E-books enabled with DRM software also prevent copying, changing and printing.
DRM is protection from piracy in a day and age where online content is like a sitting duck for content-thirsty pirates. But, it's also a lot more than that, says DRM expert and book author Bill Rosenblatt—it's a business model for the future. (See "Beyond Piracy: An expert's answers to nine questions about digital rights management and your future," on page 18.)
If you're dealing with e-books, you may already be using DRM software and are familiar with its possible applications. But as Rosenblatt explains, many publishers have yet to put any DRM processes in place and even more are unaware of its potential for automating rights management. Whatever your current position, DRM is definitely worth exploring.