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Technology

Digital rights management. Watermarks

Digital rights management through digital watermarks

Digital Rights Management (DRM) includes electronic procedures and measures that can be utilized to control the use, duplication and distribution of digital media. Digital content such as music, films, pictures, books, documents or software can be reproduced and distributed almost without restriction, in contrast to their analogue predecessors. This has repeatedly led to conflicts between rights holders and consumers; all sectors of the creative industry complain about declining revenue due to illegal copying of intellectual property. DRM aims to counteract the illegal reproduction and the illicit exchange of such media, thus protecting the exploitation rights of authors and users. Such technologies offer rights holders the opportunity to control the use and distribution of their digitized content, and to personalize their billing for consumers, according to the extent of their use. An example here is the protection of copyright through limited print licenses with technological restrictions.

Digital watermarks for digital sheet music

The term "Digital Rights Management" includes a multitude of technologies to protect the intellectual property and preserve the copyright. Well-known examples of DRM systems are Adobe Digital Editions for eBooks, FairPlay from Apple or Microsoft Windows Media Digital Rights Management. For digital scores, often are used the digital watermarks.

Digital watermarks are connecting information directly to the media product. In this process-related marking, for example, information about the author or the origin of the material can be stored irrevocably. In this case, a distinction is generally made between perceptible and imperceptible watermarks.

For perceptible digital watermarks an acoustic or optical marker is made. For example, on a music sheet, a company logo can be printed. In this way, a quality reduction of the work is achieved, through which illegal use becomes unattractive. After an appropriate purchase process of the content, the visible mark is removed by the provider.

In the case of imperceptible watermarks, an algorithm is used to link rights-related information to the carrier medium. So-called robust watermarks contain especially rights-related data, in order to define authentic and usage rights. Fragile watermarks are used to control the integrity of the data and to protect it against manipulation.

 

Photo © "Copyright" by Dennis Skley auf flickr under a Creative Commons-license

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