About this Article
Written by: Joshua Garcia
Written on: September 1st, 2005
Tags: entertainment
Thumbnail by: SPBer/Wikimedia Commons
About the Author
Joshua Garcia was a senior at USC majoring in Computer Engineering & Computer Science. He enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, listening to punk rock, watching Japanese animation, reading science fiction/fantasy novels, and exercising.
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Volume VII Issue II > Rescuing or Imprisoning Digital Media
Because the Internet makes digital media easily accessible, copyright infringement is a more serious risk than ever before. At the same time, great creative and educational opportunities arise from the unparalleled availability of so much creative work. A system called Digital Rights Management (DRM) has been developed to enforce and protect copyrighted digital media and intellectual property. DRM aims to ensure creative and educational opportunity through availability of digital media while reducing the risk of copyright infringement.

An Alternative to Suing

Much has been made in the press recently concerning the increasing risk of individual lawsuits against those illegally downloading music online. In fact, any media capable of being converted into a digital format brings risks for not only digital bootleggers, but also for the creators of the content. With this risk, however, comes opportunity for creators and consumers alike. The creative possibilities are virtually limitless when taking into account the different ways music, videos and print can be combined to create entertaining or educational works. Anyone who can manipulate basic images and edit sounds or music can create a funny online cartoon. Up-and-coming bands can use peer-to-peer (P2P) networks to make their music easily available to a much wider audience than a homemade CD could reach. Online books, articles and journals give students access to a variety of reliable resources that can enhance their education. The abundance and accessibility of digital media due to the Internet make these opportunities possible. On the other hand, the creators of digital media risk losing compensation and having their work abused when their creations become available without restriction. File sharing across the Internet, especially through P2P networks, has brought these issues to the forefront of today's technology news.
Several different methods of dealing with the copyright issues of file sharing have emerged. The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) has filed many high-profile lawsuits to curtail file sharing of digital music on P2P networks. Many of these lawsuits have been against the organizations responsible for running P2P networks, such as the original Napster. Seeing a potential to legalize and capitalize in this situation, online subscription services, such as iTunes and the new Napster, have recently become a popular way of dealing with the issue of sharing digital media across the Internet. Software engineers have developed a key tool, called Digital Rights Management (DRM), used in online subscription services to deal with copyright issues regarding digital media. Although no standard definition of DRM exists, DRM may be thought of as a system for protecting and enforcing copyrighted digital media or intellectual property in digital formats.