DRM for text? That's next

DRM for text? That's next

Summary: Yesterday, while opening an email that I received in Outlook,  the following message appeared.  It may have appeared when the message was opened, or when I attempted to open the PDF file that was attached.

TOPICS: Collaboration

Yesterday, while opening an email that I received in Outlook,  the following message appeared.  It may have appeared when the message was opened, or when I attempted to open the PDF file that was attached.  I'm not sure.  But it's the first time I've ever seen such a message and it made me wonder how long it will be until we start to see more like it:

Information Rights Management (IRM) in Microsoft Office 2003 helps prevent sensitive documents and e-mail messages from being forwarded, edited, or copied by unauthorized people.

To use IRM, you need to install the Windows Rights Management client. If you have an existing version of the Windows Rights Management client installed you will need to uninstall it first and then download the latest version of the Windows Rights Management client.  Do you want to downloaded the latest version now?

Here's the screen shot (it's too wide to fit in the blog). I clicked the NO button and everything moved along quite swimmingly.  I was not prevented from opening the document or forwarding it. Besides, it wasn't the sort of document that I imagine being very confidential.  But I wasn't sure what triggered the message.  Was it something about the document? Or, was it some sort of timed marketing? I don't know. But it sure got me thinkin' about where things are heading with text. In addition to companies wanting to keep a lid on trade secrets, intellectual property, and other sensitive information, I also see media companies -- especially pay-to-play ones -- using similar technologies to keep their articles from being forwarded around on e-mail or copied onto the Internet.  Note to the editor of the Wall Street Journal: I get a lot of full-text versions of your stories that one normally has to pay for. I don't ask for them.  They just show up (often from people I don't even know).  I'm guessing technologies like Microsoft's IRM will do to text what Apple's FairPlay does to music and videos. 

Microsoft isn't the only one with such a technology.

A few days ago, Danny Weitzner, general counsel to the World Wide Web Consortium, wondered how it is that PDF files can phone home.  In his blog, he note the following description of Adobe's LiveCycle Policy Server:

About Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server. Authors who protect their documents with Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server can audit what is done with each copy of the document (such as opening, printing, and editing). They can also change or revoke access rights at any time. If an author has revoked access to a document that is protected by Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server, Adobe Reader or Acrobat informs you that your access rights have been removed the next time you try to open the document.

Topic: Collaboration

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  • Irritating, Restricting Malware

    In Notes you've long been able to edit the Delivery Options on an email and click "Prevent Copying". Doing so prevents the document or selected text from being copied to the clipboard, exported, printed, or forwarded (a screenshot is about the only way around it).

    That only works among Notes clients, though. I'd surmise that the message would have to be sent as some form of attachment for it to work among all the various email clients out there.

    I also expect that you probably see such a thing adopted by subscription newsletters first... at least, those that don't mind limiting themselves to platforms with IRM (Irritating, Restricting Malware).
  • Ran into this problem already

    Bought a PDF download from Mighty Words Press. It phoned home to verify that the username/password I used to open it was valid, after which I could read/print the document.

    Trouble is, Mighty Words went under. So did their server that validated your username/password for opening PDF's you purchased. My downloaded PDF with its C.R.A.P. was no longer openable. Money flushed down the digital toilet.

    I will never again buy DRM restricted ANYTHING. The companies can't give us a money back guarantee that we can still open it after they go under, and I ain't "renting" an ebook.
    • You very likely will buy DRM again

      You likely will continue to as you do now. Any E.U.L.A. is DRM.
      You accept it's terms and live with it's restrictions. Is the
      complaint regarding DRM in principle or is it a complaint
      regarding enforcement? Is this about a given vendor's honesty,
      or is it about their solvency? DRM in one form or another, is the
      backbone of commercial software. All we can ever do, is put
      ourselves in a favorable position to negotiate terms.

      In this way, anything that deters competition is a bad thing.
      Harry Bardal
      • It is not

        DRM is an enforcement mechanism. An EULA is an attempt to use contract law to create a one-sided non-negotiable contract that favors the selling side only. EULA's have been overturned FYI.

        With DRM they don't even need a contract- just slap it on there.
        Edward Meyers
    • Ought to be added to DRM Trainwrecks

      I think that deserves a place on DRM Trainwrecks list.

    • print to a PDF printer like cutepdf writer?

      I wonder if it checks your printer to make sure you are not printing to a virtual printer...
      I guess you can share one from another box if it "has" to be a non-local virtual printer - painful!!
    • Well that just plain SUX!

      I mean, DRM is ONE THING, but implementing it in a paid-for document without any sort of failsafe in the event a company or server fails is just downright WRONG!

      If you buy a book from a publisher that goes under, you don't have to burn your book, but that's the equivalent of what happened to the .pdf you downloaded. If the growing implementation of DRM leads to much of this sort of thing, I see much rebellion and I hope consumers will get fed up quickly enough to simply put their feet down and say NO MORE.

      My guess, however, is that plenty of people will get burned in the process.
      Jeff Hayes
  • Its Microsoft Office DRM

    IRM is what the Office folks call their integration with the RMS stuff
    in Windows Server. PDF is not involved. Which is not to say that
    Adobe isn't just as "culpable" for this kind of stuff - Adobe has a
    Policy Server product that rights-manages PDFs and more.
    Andrew Shebanow
  • Just One More Reason

    Just one more reason to NOT use Microsoft or Apple, or Adobe, or any other purveyor of crap (DRM).
    I have three computers that have been screwed up a total of six times by drm related crap. I have never in my life copied anything to sell, and I will not be intimadated by the robber barons. I will continue to use the Microsoft products that I bought until they render them completely useless, and that would be difficult for them if I disconnect from the net. They would have to break down my door and enter forcefully, and I have a very large dog that would love to get his teeth in their @ss.
    Before the "you don't own it, you just own a license" crap starts flying, Yes, I do own it. I PURCHASED. NOT RENTED it from a RETAIL STORE, NOT RENTAL AGENCY. If they want to rent software, they need to establish proper rental agencies instead of selling their trash to unsuspecting customers in retail stores and calling it a license. Maybe they could call it a "SOFTWARE LICENSING AGENCY" ?
    At any rate I refuse to let them disable or repossess anything that I paid that much for, because they want more money and impose more restrictions. It doesn't matter if you abide by their "EULA'S", they'll screw up your computer anyway in an effort to extort mor money.
    Linux is my next stop, and i'll quit them too if they start loading it with crap (drm).
    Ole Man
  • RE: DRM for text? That's next

    LockLizard provide PDF DRM solutions starting from $2495. They prevent copying, pasting, sharing, printing, screen grabbing and modifying of PDF content. Publishers can set expiry dates and instantly revocate content at any time. Simpler to use than the Adobe solution and costs a lot less. More information can be found at http://www.locklizard.com