How DRM copy protection affects your ability to play music and movies

rights management digital (DRM) refers to a series of formats of digital copy protection that dictate how music and video content can be accessed and distributed. The purpose of DRM is to protect the rights of creators of music, television, and movies. The DRM encoding It prevents a user from copying and sharing a file so musicians, movie studios, TV networks, creators and content owners don’t lose revenue.

What are DRM files?

In the case of digital media, DRM files are music or video files that have been encrypted so that they will only play on the device they were downloaded to, or on compatible devices that have been authorized.

If you search in a folder on the server multimedia but you cannot find a file in the music or movie menu of your network media player, it may be a file with DRM format. If you can find the file but it won’t play in your media player even though other files in your music library can play, it may also indicate that it is a DRM file or Protected by copyright.

Online stores

Music and videos downloaded from online stores like iTunes can be DRM files. DRM files can be shared between compatible devices. iTunes DRM Music can be played on a Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch that is authorized with the same account iTunes.

Normally, computers and other devices must be authorized to play purchased DRM files by entering the username and password of the original purchaser.

How Apple changed its DRM policy

In 2009, Apple changed its music DRM policy and now offers all of its music without copy protection. However, songs purchased and downloaded from the iTunes store prior to 2009 are copy protected and may not be playable on all platforms.

However, those purchased songs are now available through iCloud. When these songs are downloaded back to a device, the new file is DRM-free. DRM-free songs can be played on any player network media or media streamer that can play the AAC music file format of iTunes (.m4a).

Movies and TV shows purchased from the iTunes Store are still copy-protected using Apple’s FairPlay DRM. DRM-protected files will not appear in their folders in the network media player menu, or you will receive an error message if you try to play the file.

DRM, DVD and Blu-Ray

DRM is not only limited to digital media files played on a network media player or streamer, but the concept is also present on DVD and Blu-ray media, courtesy of CSS (Content Scramble System) for DVD and Cinavia for Blu-ray.

Although these copy protection schemes are used in association with the commercial distribution of DVDs and Blu-rays, there is another copy protection format, known as CPRM, which allows users to protect home-burned DVDs if they so choose.

DRM copy protection
DRM copy protection

In all three cases, these DRM formats prevent unauthorized duplication of self-made or copyrighted video recordings.

Although CSS for DVD has been “cracked” several times over the years, and there has been limited success in breaking the Cinava system, as soon as the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) gets verified on a product hardware or software that has the ability to defeat either system, legal action quickly follows to remove the product from availability.

The only difference, however, is that while CSS has been a part of DVD since its inception in 1996, Cinavia has only been implemented in DVD players. Blu-ray Disc since about 2010, which means that if you have a Blu-ray Disc player made before that year, there’s a chance it could play unauthorized copies of Blu-ray Disc (although all Blu-ray Disc players Blu-ray Disc use CSS on association with DVD playback).

Digital copying and the film studios’ solution to piracy

In addition to law enforcement, another way that has Hollywood of preventing unauthorized copying of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs is to offer purchasers the ability to access a “digital copy” of desired content via the cloud or via download, allowing users to view content on other devices, such as a streamer media, a pc, a tablet or smartphone, without having to be tempted to make your own copy.

When you buy a DVD or Blu-ray Disc, look for a mention of services like UltraViolet (Vudu/Walmart), iTunes Digital Copy, or something similar on the packaging. If a digital copy is included, you will be provided with information on how you can use your digital copy, as well as a code (on paper or on disc) that “unlocks” the digital copy of the content in question.

On the other hand, although these services claim that the content is always there and always yours, they have the final say when it comes to access. They own the rights to the content, so they ultimately get to decide how and when it can be accessed and distributed.

DRM: a good idea that is not always practical

At first glance, DRM is a good idea to protect musicians, filmmakers, and other content creators from piracy, not to mention the threat of losing revenue from the distribution of stolen content. But as more media playback devices are created, consumers want to be able to turn on a media player at home, or a smartphone on the go, and be able to enjoy the media they bought fairly.

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