Digital Rights Management and Ebooks – International Intellectual Property Law – Case Study #12

Originally posted 2018-11-19 11:21:11

Digital Rights Management has been an issue of debate for publishers trying to fight piracy ever since the dawn of the digital age. Digital Rights Management is anti-piracy technology that digital copyright owners use to control who gets to access or copy their work. In particular, DRM gives some content holders the power to remotely control how people can install, listen to, view, and duplicate digital files. An example of how this technology has been misused was when Amazon remotely accessed thousands of readers’ Kindles and deleted ebooks without the user’s permission. DRM poses problems for consumers and their ability to control their own products even after they pay for them, but many companies and facilitators of digital material feel that DRM’s are a very effective tool to help combat piracy.

On the issue of overall utility of DRM for the publishing industry, Publishers Association CEO, Richard Mollet, feels that while it is a key tool, it must be accompanied by other measures to secure creative interests, like strong legal services, education about the importance of copyrights, and enforcement measures.

Not all publishers are fans of DRM though. Science fiction publisher Tor dropped all DRM systems from all of their books – a move that has made other publishers very upset. In response, publisher Hachette has ordered that authors that are distributed by both firms to ensure that their books are covered by DRM systems globally.

Disagreements like these highlight the fact that the entertainment industry is still struggling to deal with new mediums and their potential downsides. Although piracy exists still, the DRM tools that are supposed to stop it only have led to consumer hostility and outrage, forcing both the public and content holder to wonder if there is another way to fight piracy.

A copyright is a right to prevent others from using your originally authored work. To protect their creative ingenuity, as well as to ensure that they are the only ones who can make use of and profit from their material, authors of artistic or intellectual works have their material copyrighted. Those who have copyrighted material have many exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce the work, distribute copies to the public for sale, and perform the work. Since anything you create can be copyrighted, copyrights can protect endless types of creative work. Some examples are recorded music, books, software codes, video games, paintings, plays, or sculptures.


Mitchell, Stewart.  (August 16, 2012).  Can ebooks beat the piracy threat?  Retrieved on August 23, 2012

Gil, Paul.  (n.d.).  What Is ‘DRM’? Why Is DRM So Controversial with Music and Movie Artists? Retrieved
                on August 23, 2012 from